Del Norte County supervisors supported with little discussion requests for naming a mountain in the Siskiyou National Forest after fallen firefighter William “Billy” Jaros.
The item was introduced on the agenda last Tuesday by Board Chairman Chris Howard.
Howard said he was recently contacted by a Gasquet constituent who suggested the county honor its fallen heroes.
Howard said the influence of the board may be greater than that of an individual with state officials and asked the other supervisors if they were willing to commit staff time to the concept. Board members agreed that it would be time well spent.
By phone Thursday, Howard said at this point no particular mountain has been selected. He said he hopes the residents of Gasquet and Jaros’ family can help make that determination.
“Our job, as the board, is to see if there’s a possibility that we can do that,” Howard said, noting possible legislation approved in the late 60s allows for the naming of mountains, rivers and other landmarks.
Jaros had been a firefighter for more than 12 years, serving as a crew member on Engine 312 in the Gasquet Ranger District/ Smith River National Recreation area. A Del Norte native and graduate of Del Norte High School, he also served in the Air Force, had been deployed to the Middle East. He was repeatedly decorated for his service. He died during a conditioning hike on July 8.
At the board meeting, Gasquet resident Don Cannon Cutts spoke of Jaros’ sense of humor. He said Jaros used to collect Smokey Bear items from wherever they could be found.
“He carried it with him on Engine 312,” Cannon Cutts said, “When he was sent to a fire, if he visited a shelter where families and children were taken from there by this disaster we call a wildfire, he’d pass out Smokey Bear stuff to the children.”
Smokey Bear celebrated a 73rd birthday Aug 9.
Federal and state highways are regularly named as memorial highways and dedicated to fallen law enforcement officers. California mountains have been named in honor of individuals, but in some cases, the process takes a couple years to make its way to approval.
In 2015, U.S. Rep. Thomas McClintock introduced a bill to name a mountain in the John Muir Wilderness Sky Point, after Marine Sgt. Sky Mote, killed in Afghanistan in 2012. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in 2015.
In 2010, U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon and Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced legislation to name a Mono County mountain peak after Andrea Meade Lawrence, an olympic skier and former Mono County Supervisor. Previously known only as Point 12245, the mountain is now Mount Andrea Lawrence.
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