After the last two years of devastating fires in Okanogan County and the prediction of continued drought conditions for next year, it is time to address the wildfire problem with proactive leadership and action.
Our principal leaders for this issue are 1) the county commissioners and sheriff, 2) the governor and the state Department of Natural Resources, and 3) the US Forest Service, BLM and the inter-agency fire teams at the federal level. And, the county commissioners are our supposedly closest allies.
It has been three plus months since the fires were put out, and these agencies and individuals are still holding meetings and commissions to fact-find what happened. While that is commendable and necessary, Okanogan’s citizens need to know some of “the things we won’t do next time,” action plans that will alleviate, reduce or prevent some of the mistakes and losses of last year.
The recent Methow Valley News article “County commissioners seek to create nimble response to wildfires” had lots of ideas but few conclusions or action steps. It is time to stop pointing fingers and step up to leading and serving the people. We must expect a lot from our commissioners at this time, so that next summer will be better.
Our county commissioners have not incorporated their co-authored 2013 Wildfire Protection Place into the draft County Comprehensive Plan, nor have they developed new burn ordinances and future development plans that reflect current conditions and shortage of water county-wide. It is time for the commissioners to tell their constituency why they are not responding with appropriate guardianship.
Do we get improved leadership from our officials or do we vote in 2016 for better representation?