News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

A wildfire campaigner retires

Jinny Reed has been working fire for 32 years. She has been with the Sisters Ranger District for 19 of those years working in wildfire prevention, education and suppression. After a career spanning most of her adult life after high school, Reed hung up her uniform and retired as of February 29.

Reed’s primary role as assistant fire management officer for Sisters has to do with prescribed burns and fire prevention and education.

“My passion is to get the best information about fire and preventative fire out to the public,” Reed told The Nugget.

Her main focus over the years has been on planned ignitions, treatments on certain areas of the forest, and mitigation of the impacts of wildfire.

“I really feel like I have done my part in my career in the planning, educating, and post-fire rehab stuff,” she said. “I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I drive through Sisters Country and see the areas that we have treated or worked on.”

Reed estimates that she has been a part of treating 75,000 to 100,000 acres of land.

She has worked on more than 19 campaign wildfires in her career and focuses primarily on rehabilitation after fire. She is actively a part of proactive treatment services and getting the forest back to “pre-Euro settlement” conditions.

“The forest and trees are where my roots are growing up in Deschutes County,” she said. “I have a sense of soul here.”

Even with the changes due to population growth, Reed feels Sisters Country will always be her home.

Reed graduated high school in 1987 and jumped straight into college at COCC. She joined their forestry program because she always loved the outdoors.

“During one of my classes, the professor asked me if I wanted to work on a Forest Service engine during the summer and I said yes,” she recalled.

Reed then was hired on as a seasonal employee for the Forest Service in 1988 and has been doing forestry work ever since.

“The thing that was a surprise to me in this work was the manual labor aspect; I wasn’t sure at first if this was my cup of tea, but I stuck with it,” she said.

Reed’s own experience with wildfire influenced the way she approached Forest Service as a career path.

“I want to help people understand fire and its impact and help them realize it is a part of where we live,” she said.

Reed paid for college and her forestry associates degree by working for the Forest Service as a hotshot.

After her time on the fire line for 10 years as a seasonal employee and hotshot, Reed wanted to go into a more specialized permanent job in suppression and prevention. Her first permanent job was in 1998 at Malheur, where she worked until 2001 when she returned to Sisters.

“I returned because a job in education and prevention opened up on the Deschutes area in Sisters and I wanted to return to my home and my roots, so I came back and have been working here ever since,” said Reed.

A big part of Reed’s job up to now is to talk to the public and educate and inform the people. She works with first-graders on teaching them about campfire safety with Smokey the Bear. She works on trail maintenance, forest treatment and post-wildfire rehab.

One of her biggest passions in her work is planning and executing prescribed fires.

“It takes layers and layers of planning with prescribed fire. It takes so long to get fire on the ground because we have to make sure there is a lasting long-term investment and educate the public about the importance of preventative fire for their own lasting benefit,” she said.

Reed plans to continue volunteering in public service and using her knowledge and applying it to other areas within the community. She plans to work with the Sisters Trails Alliance and volunteer on trail restoration. Reed has an eight-year-old daughter and wants to get her involved in nature and hiking in Sisters Country and beyond.

“I haven’t been able to recreate for most of my adult life — for over 32 years my life has been consumed by fire,” she said.

She and her daughter have a list of national parks they plan to visit.

“I really want to be there for my daughter and keep busy with her and get outside with her. I want to use my work knowledge to better educate her,” said Reed.

She plans to work with the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center and volunteer with them when things get busy during fire season.

“I feel like I have learned so much in my career and I don’t want to close the book on what I’ve lived through. I want to continue to share it where I can,” she said. “Fire is in my bones, and I will always have a connection to it even while not working for the federal service.”


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