What can you say about this?
Early this year, looking to overcome the political stalemates that have long paralyzed decisions in the West around timber and wildfires, Gov. Kate Brown backed legislation to tackle the whole range of problems: thinning the forests, hiring more firefighters, establishing new requirements to make homes more fire-resistant and — looking to the future — a cap-and-trade program on greenhouse gas emissions that would assure that Oregon was doing its part to combat climate change. “We must be prepared for the more voracious wildfire seasons to come,” Ms. Brown said.
Within weeks, though, the plans were dead. Republican lawmakers staged a walkout on the cap-and-trade proposal, and the bills that would have provided millions of dollars to prevent and suppress wildfires were left on the table.
Months later, the scenario everyone feared came to pass: A series of historic wildfires this month has wiped out communities and killed at least nine people in Oregon. . . .
The often competing interests between economic growth and environmental stewardship have been locked for decades in disagreements, including a battle over the spotted owl, which faced extinction in the 1980s as the industry cut through ancient forests along the coast. That dispute, which included lawsuits and legislation that drove a lasting decline in the timber industry, escalated to the point that President Bill Clinton had to intervene to strike a solution that became the Northwest Forest Plan.
But some areas preserved for wildlife and recreation have sprouted robust, combustible trees and underbrush, and the risk of wildfires has continued to grow.
Some of the people interviewed by the Times were optimistic that the terrible fires will drive the legislature to adopt at least some of these measures, but on the other hand, who knows. There's an election around the corner.