BEND, Ore. - Gov. Kate Brown saw and learned about the preparations Central Oregon community leaders are making in case of a natural disaster during a visit Wednesday.
The Heart of Oregon Corps has teamed up with Bend Parks and Recreation at Discovery Park in NorthWest Crossing in Bend to create a defensible space by clearing brush, reducing fuels that can feed a wildfire.
"It's a win-win," said Executive Director Laura Handy. "They're giving back to their community and helping out in so many ways, and they're also working on their own goals and futures."
Brown got a firsthand look at on how the crew is protecting Central Oregon and areas across the state from wildfires.
"It's great to see the young people involved in the Heart of Oregon, to see the work they're doing on the ground to prevent disastrous wildfires," Brown said.
Brown then traveled to Redmond Airport (Roberts Field) and noted the region would play a crucial role if a predicted major offshore earthquake occurs.
The governor also learned about the plans for a new $2.5 million interagency wildfire dispatch center, to be located at the airport in Redmond.
Central Oregon sees an average of 450 wildfires a year. The dispatch center will provide support for several forest agencies across Central Oregon.
"The level of coordination and collaboration that's happening here in terms of this facility is truly extraordinary. And then with the local communities (it) is great, so I'm glad to see it on every level," she said.
Brown also talked with NewsChannel 21 about this year's campaign. She has agreed to at least three debates with GOP candidate Bud Pierce, though not as early as he sought. One is planned in Bend in late September.
Asked about issues she will focus on, Brown said she wants to make sure all students have a stable home environment.
"There are right now roughly 20,000 students in Oregon public schools that don't have a home," she said. "I find this unacceptable. We need to make sure that all of our kids have a stable, safe, warm place to call home."
Brown said she also wants to help small businesses across the state and create more affordable housing.