President will tour Squire fire site, stump for Smith
Firefighter Terrie Glover of Walla Walla, Wash., is dwarfed Friday by the smoke coming from the Biscuit fire. President Bush is schedule to visit Southern Oregon next week, to get an update on the situation and discuss logging alternatives. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven — — — Bush to visit
Wire and staff reports
President Bush will view areas devastated by the Squire fire in Ruch during a visit to Oregon that also will include a fund-raising dinner for Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, the White House announced Friday.
Bush, who is taking a working vacation at his ranch in Waco, Texas, also plans stops in California, according to a schedule released by the president's office.
The Squire fire burned nearly 3,000 acres in the Applegate Valley after it was sparked by a lightning storm July 13. Although it burned in an area of urban interface mixed with public lands, the fire did not destroy any dwellings, thanks to what many believe was the result of thinning projects before the fire coupled with aggressive firefighting during the blaze.
The president will deliver a speech on the importance of thinning forests to curb future wildfires, and has invited governors from Western states to join him during the visit, said a congressional source who spoke on condition he would not be further identified.
Smith and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., will join Bush during his stop near Medford. Both lawmakers have been strong advocates of managing forests. Many environmentalists have challenged Republican calls for thinning forests as efforts to undermine restrictions on logging.
From Medford, Bush will travel to Portland for a round-table discussion with community leaders from around the state and a &
36;1,000-per-person reception for Smith, the congressional source said.
Bush made another visit to Portland in early January that was seen as an effort to bolster the re-election bid of Smith, who faces a challenge from Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. The president has not planned any further visits to Oregon, said the source.
Smith has raised &
36;5.1 million in campaign funds for the November election and has no debt, according to campaign finance reports released last week.
From Portland, Bush was to fly to Stockton, Calif., according to the White House schedule.