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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.”
Monday, April 13, 2015
BY GRANT KIRBY | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
The mega-shift from technology-driven to data-driven organizations raises questions about Oregon’s workforce preparedness.
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
As a general rule, the more people with autism can be provided with visual cues, the better they will be able to understand and manage their environment. It’s a lesson Tom Keating learned well. The 61-year-old Eugene grant writer spent 31 years taking care of his autistic brother James, and in the late 1980s developed a spreadsheet that created a series of nonsense characters that grew or shrank depending on how much money James had in his account.
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN
A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Leaders in Oregon's ag sector gathered this morning in Portland’s Coopers Hall winery/taproom to discuss the role of the region as an export gateway, impediments to exporting products and solutions to containerized shipping challenges.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Everyone knows cell phones and driving are a lethal combination. The risk is especially high for teenage drivers, whose delusions of immortality pose such a threat to us all. Enforcement alas, remains feeble; more promising are pedagogical approaches aimed at getting people to focus on the road, not their devices.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.
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