Retired USFS Fuels Specialist, Wallowa Whitman National Forest
Wallowa County, Oregon
Jenny Reinheardt has been a fire specialist for much of her working life. She has both a professional and personal relationship to fire and is an extremely passionate public service steward. She recently wrote the Wallowa County Wildfire Protection Plan, which details the local history of fire and climate, and assesses fire risk across the county. Jenny has lit dozens of prescribed burns throughout her career, and is a testament to the power of humility, transparency and dedication when approaching controversial issues.
Jenny understands nuance and respects the complexity of the 21st century fire conversation. She explained how 1900’s fire suppression—which arose from the misguided notion that fire is only detrimental and would cripple the growing timber industry—has resulted in the massive fuel buildup we see today. Jenny believes “we have actually eliminated nature’s ability to clean up her floor,” and she identifies prescribed fire as the necessary step in a larger hands-on approach to forest recovery. She recognizes there lies ahead a long process of clearing forest floors and thinning overcrowded stands to decrease the intensity of future wildfires. However, she remains committed to reducing threats posed to wildland-urban interfaces one prescribed burn at a time.
By Amara Killen
Photo by James Baker