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|Articles - October 2011|
|Thursday, September 22, 2011|
The wildfire season went from dormant to red hot in a matter of weeks in late summer, when a surge of blazes from Dollar Lake to Hell’s Canyon sparked a full-scale mobilization. Thousands of firefighters responded to protect property and natural resources including the Bull Run Watershed, source of Portland’s drinking water.
The crews performed admirably, but their industry is in deep trouble. A record snow-pack year preceded by early rains last fall made for 11 months of down time after one of the slowest seasons on record in 2010. “Going into September it was a quarter to midnight for a lot of people in our industry,” says Don Pollard, president of GFP Enterprises in Sisters. “A lot of folks who have invested a lot of money are hurting. Our industry association did a poll in August and about half of our members were either getting out of the business or were thinking of getting out.”
That was before lightning strikes sparked raging fires near the Warm Springs Reservation Aug. 26, initiating a complex of fires in the Cascades that put more than 2,000 people to work. Then came a blaze east of Hood River that threatened the Bull Run Watershed. Suddenly, even the most troubled firefighting operations had all the work they could handle.
“There was absolutely no work until the last week of August,” says Rick Dice, president of PatRick Environmental and president of the National Wildfire Suppression Association. “It was tough to hold crews together. Then all of a sudden it hits the fan, and they need everything you’ve got. It would be like having a factory completely shut down end expecting it cranked up within an hour.”
These are not ideal conditions for running a business, especially with lenders clamping down on credit. Industry veterans are lobbying federal and state agencies to set aside more off-season contracts for non-emergency projects to keep companies stable and healthy for when they are needed. It’s an issue of particular significance in Oregon, home to about two thirds of the nation’s private wildfire fighting resources.
About 4,000 contract firefighters work in the industry statewide, and local businesses such as Evergreen Aviation and Columbia Helicopter win contracts fighting fires both in and outside of Oregon. “We need to bring some stability and certainty to the industry,” says Dice. “We’ve been talking to all the agencies about this. It’s a long process but they are listening.”
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE
Well-financed outsiders from France and California are buying up vineyards and wineries in the Willamette Valley.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD
Janice Levenhagen-Seeley reprograms tech.
Friday, August 15, 2014
In this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
By Kim Moore | OB Editor
The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.
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