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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Oso Slide Communities Receive Washington Medal Of Valor

Spc. Matthew Sissel, 122D PAOC
Washington National Guard
Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the deadly Oso landslide.

Sunday marks one year since a deadly landslide near Oso, Washington, killed 43 people.

Wednesday, Governor Jay Inslee awarded the state Medal of Valor to four communities affected by the natural disaster. The ceremony took place during a joint session of the state legislature.

Volunteer rescuer Quinn Nations accepted the award on behalf of the town of Darrington.

“You know we appreciate it on behalf of Darrington, it’s quite the honor,” he said. “But I hope you have about 2,000 more of them because there’s a lot of people here who deserve one of ‘em. Steve Skaglund said it best when he made a statement about the slide, he said ‘look what the American people can do if you just untie their hands’”

Skaglund is a logger who used heavy equipment to help build a bypass road around the area of highway covered by the slide.

The Washington state Medal of Valor recognizes individuals who risk serious injury or death to save or attempt to save the life of another. This year the decision was to give the honor to the many individuals from the surrounding area who were involved in the rescue, recovery and relief efforts following the landslide.

Meanwhile, Washington lawmakers are considering two Oso-related measures. One clarifies that a statewide fire mobilization can be declared in the event of the major natural disaster. That request was denied after Oso because it wasn’t a fire.

A second piece of legislation would require the state Geological Survey to use the best readily-available technology to identify and map hazard zones.

The most obvious example of this is using Lidar technology -- something akin to a three-dimensional x-ray of landforms -- to map these hazards. The bill would also require the Geological Survey to create and make publicly available a database of Lidar and geological hazard maps.

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources is requesting nearly $7 million to expand its Lidar mapping program.

Something that is not under consideration in the Capitol is a requirement for a special disclosure statement when homes or property in a mapped hazard zone are sold. This is a requirement in California.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."