Smokejumper museum could seek state, federal help

By Geoff Folsom • Spokesman

If it wants to keep its best-case budget of $5.3 million, a proposed smokejumper and wildland fire education center could need help from the state and federal governments, officials recently told the Redmond City Council.

The U.S. Forest Service is looking at building the facility at the Redmond Air Center, located along the northern edge of the airport. Joe Stutler, Deschutes County senior adviser, told councilors at their Dec. 17 meeting that the museum would be a “premiere tourism destination for Central Oregon.”

“We still think the bare minimum would be at least 40,000 people a year,” he said of the number of visitors to the 5,500-square-foot museum.

While the museum has been compared to a smokejumper visitor center in Missoula, Montana, Stutler said the Redmond facility would be different from anyplace else in the United States.

“There is not another facility like this in the United States, where you’ve got the (Interagency Support) Cache and the smokejumpers and the aviation unit and the hotshots and the dispatch center and the perfect viewing area,” he said. “The closest thing we have in Missoula is nothing like this in terms of proximity and all that.”