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Gov. Brown Tours Forest Restoration Project Outside Almeda Fire Area

Governor Kate Brown stands in front of a crew of workers in a forest.
April Ehrlich / JPR News
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Gov. Kate Brown visited the West Bear All-Lands Restoration Project outside Phoenix and Talent on April 28.

Gov. Kate Brown toured one of the Rogue Valley’s forest restoration projects Wednesday as part of a tour of the region.

Workers cut the engines on their chainsaws as a line of cars entered the forest outside Phoenix Wednesday afternoon.

Gov. Kate Brown visited the crews working on the West Bear All-Lands Restoration Project near an area that was hit hard by the Almeda Fire last year.

The project is among several being led by Rogue Forest Partners, a collaboration between four nonprofit and six public agencies working to protect the Rogue Basin’s forests against catastrophic wildfires through management practices such as forest thinning and prescribed burns.

The collaborative recently got a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, which is largely funded by the Oregon Lottery.

Governor Brown commended project leaders for their collaborative work.

“I have to say, no one does collaboratives better than the Rogue Valley,” Brown said. “It's really, really extraordinary. And to turn what was not a whole lot of money — $500,000 — into this is honestly mind-blowing.”

Darren Borgias of the Nature Conservancy told the governor that restoration projects like this can be expensive, but they help cut down on dense brush that could fuel another destructive wildfire.

“One of our projects here is to bring together a sort of public awareness of the importance of the work, the magnitude of the work, how to leverage what's going on to combine both wildlife habitat needs along with community protection,” Borgias said.

The visit was part of Brown’s two-day tour of Jackson County. On Thursday she'll visit the burn zone where thousands of homes were destroyed in the Almeda Fire last year.

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.