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ANOTHER VOICE: Help successful fire prevention planning

I think I can safely say that I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.

The downpour that Oregon received last week was nothing short of torrential, bringing with it crisp fall mornings, brightly colored maple leaves, and signifying to most of us that the wildfire season has officially come to an end. It seems like fall may have come early for us, shorting us of those wonderful late summer days that we all have grown accustomed to.

Looking back on it, however, we have had a long summer: There were record temperatures in May and we managed to skip the whole month of Juneuary.

If our summer really was so long, where did our fire season go? Yes, the Government Flats fire made a ferocious appearance, but Hood River County managed to stay fairly unscathed all summer long.

My first thought is that Mother Nature is not a predictable lady. However, considering that the majority of fires in Hood River County are human-caused, maybe another reason exists: Hood River County Fire Services actively campaigned throughout the fire season for citizens to be vigilant and aware that we live in a fire-prone area. An active and aware citizenry is the most effective defense against wildfire: kudos Hood River!

While we avoided any major fires this year, we should all keep in mind that fire prevention is not only a summer task. With fall comes the time of year to clear brush around the home, remove those pesky beetle-infested pines, and plan for next year’s fire season. Yes, fire prevention is a year-round task.

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To prepare for the future, Hood River County Fire Services is in the process of updating the Hood River County Community Wildfire Prevention Plan — a planning document that helps citizens, individual fire districts, and the Oregon Department of Forestry to reduce hazardous fuels in fire prone areas.

As part of the process, Hood River County Fire Services would like public input on the update and is cordially inviting concerned citizens to come and give your input on Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the meeting of the Hood River Watershed Group.

We want to plan and prepare for future wildfire prevention in Hood River County.

The meeting will be sponsored by the Watershed Group and held at the OSU Extension Meeting Room.

Paper drafts of the document can be found at your local fire department, and electronic copies can be found at http://hrccwpp.wordpress.com.

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Jon Gehrig serves as wildfire prevention coordinator for Hood River County Fire Services.

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