The East Oregon Forest Protection Association held its 50th annual membership meeting April 24 at the Grant County Regional Airport conference room in John Day.

There were 65 landowners and state fire and forestry officials in attendance, including State Forester Peter Daugherty.

Cooperator reports were given as well as a history presentation by Mike Dykzeul of Wilsonville who covered the past 50 years of the EOFPA.

The attendees gathered on the tarmac after the meeting for a fire tanker air drop and a helicopter bucket-drop demonstration.

Flying from Redmond Airport, an MD-87 airtanker made a low flyby, dropping 3,000 gallons of water.

A visiting Baker Aircraft helicopter took off from the Malheur National Forest airbase, part of the local airport and, after filling up nearby, made a bucket drop of water for the crowd.

Oregon Department of Forestry aviation manager Neal Laugle of Salem said the demonstration provided an opportunity for a close look at the equipment used in firefighting, including the big water drop from the MD-87 next-generation airtanker.

“Landowners rarely get to see what their fire patrol assessment brings to bear on fires,” he said, noting the Oregon-based company Erickson Aero Tanker, has a contract with ODF.

District Forester for Northeast Oregon Joe Hessel said the big airtankers are used in initial attacks, and can be instrumental in big fires as well.

“These aircraft have made a huge difference in our ability to catch fires before they become an issue,” he said.

EOFPA treasurer Lance Barker of Canyon City said the nonprofit corporation is made up of members who are private landowners who are not in a fire district.

He said the visitors were impressed by the airport facility and added, “Having the state forester there was quite an honor for us.”

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