(Hello, my friend),
As we do our everyday jobs here at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, we often get so engrossed in Tribal business that we do not stay fully aware of those occasions when our other elected officials and Tribal citizens are going through difficult times, both personally and professionally. I especially regret that I was not able to follow the heroic work of our own Mark Johnson in his role in fighting the California wildfires of 2017 and the weight of his responsibility as a fire chief of the largest fire district in Northern California. The scale of the loss of property and disruption of lives in the area Mark serves was simply stunning.
The 2017 California wildfire season was the most destructive wildfire season on record, which saw multiple fires burning across the state, the Sacramento Bee reported in December. A total of 9,133 fires burned approximately 1,381,405 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. This includes five of the 20 most destructive wildland-urban interface fires in the state’s history.
Throughout the early months of 2017, there was heavy rainfall over most of California, which triggered widespread flooding, thus temporarily mitigating the state’s severe drought conditions.
According to a report published by the National Interagency Fire Center, the potential for large fires was expected to remain near normal through the spring, but they predicted that once the fine fuels dried out there would likely be a spike in grass fire activity.
In October, 250 wildfires ignited across Northern California, burning more than 245,000 acres and causing more than $9.4 billion in insured property losses, becoming the costliest group of wildfires on record. It will take at least several months, and likely years, to fully recover from the devastating wildfires that ripped through Northern California in October, which destroyed at least 8,900 structures and killed 44 people, according to Sonoma County officials. In addition, the Northern California fires hospitalized or injured at least 192 other people.
Representative Mark Johnson serves the Citizen Potawatomi Nation as Tribal Legislator for District 7 and does exemplary work. After 38 years of fire service, he has risen to the position of unit chief for the Fresno-Kings Unit of CAL-FIRE. He is also chief of the Fresno County Fire Protection District. This put him in the heart of this horrific fight to protect the people and property of the area he serves in Northern California, with responsibility to direct hundreds of firefighters and millions of dollars of emergency resources.
There are many Citizen Potawatomi who live or work in the area that Mark has the responsibility to protect. Please join me and all of the CPN Tribal government in congratulating him and thanking him in meeting this awesome responsibility while also fulfilling his job as a CPN Tribal Legislator at the same time.
I encourage all of you to vote in the district elections and for the Tribal budget. This year is one of our Tribe’s most successful, only because of the experience and hard work our people put into their jobs.
Thank you for the honor of serving as your Tribal Chairman these last 33 years.
John “Rocky” Barrett
(He Leads Them Home)