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Inmate help is a long tradition

Thank you for the uplifing story about inmates helping with the December flood clean-up and the generosity of appreciative store owners in Vernonia, who are willing to lend these inmates a hand when their time is done ('After the flood,' Feb. 6, 2008).

Inmates from our local South Fork Inmate Camp helped with this effort. South Fork Camp is a minimum security facility located in the Tillamook State Forest, about half way between Forest Grove and Tillamook. Since 1951, South Fork Camp has been a cooperative effort between the Department of Corrections and Oregon Department of Forestry, where low-risk inmates do all kinds of work in the forest, from planting trees to maintaining campgrounds.

The article suggests using inmates to help with disasters is something new.

This is far from true. South Fork inmates have helped during disasters for many years, including the 1996 flood. They are especially outstanding at fighting forest fires, which they've been doing locally and statewide for decades.

The key to South Fork's success is the outstanding training, supervision and positive attitude provided by the Inmate Crew Coordinators, who are employees of the Department of Forestry.

Day and day out, these dedicated employees set the tone for the great work done by South Fork inmates.

Thank goodness we have a local resource such as South Fork Camp. Our sincere thanks and appreciation go out to them.

David L. Johnson

Retired ODF District Forester, Gaston