Field of vinyards at Pfieffer Winery on the South Willamette Valley Food Trail.

Willamette Valley Wildfire Response and Support

Image credit: Joni Kabana

Immediate consumer facing response

In immediate response to the wildfires that erupted in early September of 2020, WVVA built a consumer facing wildfire travel advisory page to inform visitors on how to find routes home as many major highways were closed and advised against travel to the area as residents were evacuated.

In partnership with the Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) of the Willamette Valley, WVVA compiled stories of resiliency coming out of the fire impacted communities, like businesses supporting fire victims with free meals and pitched these stories local media to show the Willamette Valley community coming together at a time of need.

Industry-facing support

WVVA set up a wildfire communications team to understand how the region was being impacted by the fires. At the height of the 2020 fire season, the following fires were burning, causing evacuations in Willamette Valley communities: Bald Peak Fire (Yamhill– Newberg), Lionshead Fire (Clackamas– Molalla, Marion– Santiam Canyon), Beachie Creek Fire (Marion– Santiam Canyon, Linn– Mill City), Holiday Farm Fire (Lane– Blue River/McKenzie Region).

This team met daily the first week of the fires, twice a week the following two weeks, and then met weekly until the group felt it could merge with the COVID-19 messaging team of which the conversation switched to reopening for both fires and the pandemic. A Basecamp team was created for wildfire messaging that is still used for sharing fire-related information.

WVVA is continuing to work with Cascade Volunteers on their funded Destination Ready project for the McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project. This pilot project focuses on work with tour operators to create voluntourism travel packages that will both support local lodging properties and trail recovery efforts in the wildfire-impacted McKenzie River corridor leveraging additional support for this fire impacted community.

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