News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

State issuing map that shows wildfire risks

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

State officials have released a wildfire risk map aimed at reducing the chances of catastrophic fires where wildland and developed property meet and giving residents tools to limit their own exposure.

The map, which was created by Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, went live Thursday. It was produced based on administrative rules adopted by the Oregon Board of Forestry at its June 8 meeting. A rulemaking advisory committee developed the rules. Included were timber industry officials, fire officials, environmental groups, agricultural officials, state officials and OSU faculty members.

Key information that will be part of the map and its supporting materials includes:

• Of the 1.8 million tax lots in Oregon, 956,496 of the lots are in the wildland-urban interface (WUI);

• 120,726 tax lots are in high or extreme fire risk classifications; and

• Approximately 80,000 of 120,276 tax lots in high or extreme fire risk zones contain a structure that may be subject to new codes or standards.

The map also will show boundary criteria for the WUI, note how each of the five wildfire risk classes are assigned and contain the notification and appeal processes for property owners.

The map was developed to help satisfy requirements of Senate Bill 762, which was passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2021 as a result of the fires that have plagued the state in the past few years, including the Labor Day 2020 blazes that affected huge swaths of the Santiam Canyon.

The wildfire preparedness and resiliency bill also requires action by some property owners to help mitigate the risk of wildfire through adoption of defensible space and home-hardening building codes.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal is working on defensible space requirements, which are scheduled to be adopted in December. No date has been set for when the codes will take effect. In addition, the Building Codes Division will adopt home-hardening rules that are scheduled for adoption in October and take effect in April 2023.

Property owners in the high and extreme risk classes will receive letters about their property, and whether they are subject to the new defensible space and home hardening codes. The ODF is planning public information sessions to address questions on the map, its functions and purpose. Oregonians also will be advised how they can appeal their risk class.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To access the map and tools go to https://oregonexplorer.info/topics/wildfire-risk?ptopic=2.

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