Fire, smoke panelists discuss community resilience during wildfire season


Fire and smoke industry experts from across the state met at Southern Oregon University in Ashland to discuss the impacts of this wildfire season and strategies to help the community move forward.

Host Rep. Pam Marsh said the purpose behind the summit was to show the community can take control of the environment even in these difficult conditions.

"We made it up because we really thought people need to come together," Marsh said. "The community need to have a chance to hear the information and see that we don't have to be victims. We can be empowered."

For a crowd of 350 guests, panelists covered topics from forest management, health impacts, economic consequences, to climate change.

"I was tasked with giving a history of how we got to the state we are in today, which really is about how there is this linkage between society and the ecosystems that we are surrounded by and interact with and how that linkage has changed over time," panelist Dr. Christopher Dunn said.

Dunn, who is a researcher at SOU, said the event is just the beginning of an important conversation between fire experts and residents.

"We would like to see the social system, the ecological system, and what I call the fire management system move forward together toward a more resilient and adaptable future in regards to forest fires and our economies," Dunn said.

Marsh said she hopes to have more events like this in the future. She said her next goal is to host a forum with the Oregon State Fire Marshal to learn more about the use of data analysis in fire predictions and resource management.

"I think the intention would be not to repeat what we did today but to really keep developing the conversation and responses," Marsh said.

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