A meeting held on the evening of Monday, Jan. 28, gave landowners, grazing
permittees and other stakeholders an opportunity to discuss a fact-finding report issued on the 2012 Barry Point Fire.
The report was prepared by former BLM Dir. Ed Shepard and Roy Montgomery with Shepard & Associates, LLC, and can be found online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/fremont-winema/barrypointfirereview.
U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Kent Connaughton attended the meeting to answer questions.
Jerry Evans, who has a local family ranching operation, remarked on observations of mismanagement and poor communication of the fire from the very start, citing numerous management and leadership issues.
He also emphasized in a later interview that the issues raised are not with local Forest Service employees, but with the outside representatives and employees that were charged with management of the fire.
“They just didn’t have the coordination,” he said. “Because they lost the management, they lost control of the fire.”
Jerry additionally expressed disappointment that candor he said was shared by Montgomery and Shepard in a post-fire tour of the site, led by he and his brother James as well as their father, Bob, did not find its way into the report.
Landowner Ace Felder said he felt the report would not shape future fire suppression efforts.
“The fact of the matter is you don’t listen to other people,” he said. “Until that changes, the result of these fires is not going to stop.”
Landowner Matt Morris cited specifically a segment of the report that detailed evacuation orders. Morris said the report implied negligence on his behalf, adding he was never told he needed to leave his property.
Morris also questioned the lack of overlapping shifts during the fire, as he observed three to four hour periods of transition between one crew to the next.
“That’s negligence in and of itself, on its own,” Morris said.
Several of those present questioned the report’s compilation by veteran federal employees.