Cameron’s Climate Story


Cameron Montagne


Corvallis, Oregon 97330

How are you sensing climate change?

In September 2020, Corvallis Oregon, and most of the rest of the state were choking on smoke from several large forest fires. The Lionshead fire to the north and the Holiday Farm fire to the south were the two that most affected me. Historic wind storms blew the smoke directly into the Willamette Valley, smoking out all the cities from Salem to Corvallis, and Eugene. For at least a week, the air quality was so bad I couldn’t leave my house. No one that I knew had ever seen the air quality index so high. Stores and restaurants closed, and Corvallis became a ghost town. Everyone was huddled inside, around an air purifier if you’re lucky, watching the news for evacuation notices and marveling at the dystopic red sky. I’ve lived in Oregon my whole life and I’ve never seen fires this bad. My parents and friends have lived here longer, and still, we agree that it’s getting worse by the year. Air filters sell out in stores by July, there’s talk of “fire season”, worries of drought, campfire bans, and canceled 4th of Julys. If you live in Oregon, you’re always worried about summer fires, and hoping your town isn’t next.

How do these changes make you feel?

Seeing the sky so red and dark was terrifying. The sun was so blocked out it looked like dusk the whole day. Ash was piling on cars and on windowsills, it felt like the end of the world. And most of all, I was upset that I couldn’t go outside and enjoy the beautiful Oregon summer. I knew some of the beautiful places and forests I loved were burning, and there was nothing I could do about it. Fire danger could be mitigated by utilizing native ethics and traditional indigenous knowledge of controlled burns and forest management. Furthermore, reduction of the use of fossil fuels and slowing climate change will prevent high temperatures and extreme weather and precipitation patterns that cause fires.

red sky from wildfires
red sky from wildfires




Corvallis, Oregon 97330

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