Our hearts are heavy with the enormous loss and destruction Oregon and other Western states have endured this past week from devastating wildfires. Unhealthy air from wildfire smoke continues to blanket our region. The cities of Talent and Phoenix in the Rogue Valley have been decimated, including the main offices of our valued partner, Rogue Climate. Communities in Clackamas County, Marion County, Lane County, and Jackson County have been displaced and are in urgent need of support. Meanwhile, intense hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and typhoons in Japan confirm that climate chaos is upon us.
Please learn more and take adequate precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from the health impacts of wildfire. Here are some ways you can help communities in need:
- Donate to the new MRG Foundation Rogue Valley Relief Fund
- Buy respirators and air filters for communities in heavily impacted parts of the state
- Donate to the Oregon Worker Relief Fund, which is pivoting to raise and distribute funds to support immigrant workers impacted by the fires
- Donate to the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund
- Portlanders: Drop off essential supplies from now through September 18th, 9 AM to 8 PM, at the Oregon Sierra Club Office (1821 SE Ankeny Street in Portland). Check the Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club’s Facebook page for an evolving list of needed supplies. Volunteers have already sent several vans full of supplies to partners on the ground in Marion County and Southern Oregon and will send more throughout this week.
- Learn about other statewide wildfire relief resources
- Learn about additional ways that you can help
We know that climate change plays a major role in these more intense fires: hotter, drier conditions driven by a warming planet lead to fast and furious blazes like the ones we’ve been experiencing. We also know that the Indigenous peoples of the West knew that controlled burns and coexisting with fires helped to reduce destruction to human beings in pre-colonial times. Industrial logging is not the answer: old-growth trees are more resilient to fires and backcountry tree thinning does not help protect public health and safety from wildfire impacts.
We also know that six of Oregon National Guard’s largest helicopters are unavailable to fight the fires as they are currently deployed to support the US military campaign in Afghanistan. It’s time to reprioritize how our resources are spent to protect the health and safety of our communities. We need a Green New Deal for our forests that protects our greatest carbon reserves, invests in community protections against destructive fires, and keeps fossil fuels in the ground to mitigate climate change.
Please take care of yourself, wear a well-fitting respirator or N95 mask if you must spend any amount of time outdoors, and share opportunities to support impacted communities widely.
Photo above: Volunteers in Portland load vans of supplies for Oregonians impacted by wildfires (9/14/20)