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

Poll says wildfire concerns grow for Oregonians

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Oregon residents expressed strong concerns about wildfires in a recent statewide poll, with a majority expecting wildfire dangers to increase.

The survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center reflects the thoughts of the 1,446 Oregonians who responded to online questions  from June 2-11.

A total of 92% of those responding said wildfires were a somewhat serious or very serious risk, with 88% saying that they expect wildfires to increase in the next 10 years.

Wildfires have plagued Oregon in virtually all regions of the state in recent years, with the poll noting that that 88% figure regarding the future stood no matter where the respondent lived.

Although that statewide consensus on the risks exists, the poll takers also found that those in rural areas such as the Santiam Canyon are more likely to see wildfires as a direct threat to themselves and their families.

The survey showed that 67% of Oregonians in rural counties are concerned about the threat of wildfires; only 45% of those in urban areas felt that way.

Other findings from the study:

• Less than half of Oregonians approve of how wildfires are being managed, either by individual landowners or the government. However, approval numbers for private land management are higher than those of the state or federal government.

• Wildfire reduction methods that specifically address the danger wildfire poses to homes are the most popular among Oregonians, with 89% in support of clearing vegetation around homes and 85% supporting hardening and preparing homes to be more fire-resistant.

• The wildfire reduction strategy with the lowest level of support is more logging (36% support). However, poll takers noted that when asked about removing smaller, weaker, and poorer quality of trees in crowded forests, support increases to 76%.

• When presented with a list of potential negative impacts from wildfire, Oregonians’ favor maintaining natural resources, health, and wellbeing, with less concern about impacts to recreation or personal property. Oregonians are most concerned about the health effects of smoke from wildfires (83% of respondents).

• Loss of wildlife and fish habitat is the possible effect with the second-highest level of concern, with 82% of Oregonians indicating great or moderate concern. That level of concern ranged between 74% and 88% depending on factors such as age, education, income, gender and address.

• Those Oregonians who believe some wildfires should be left to burn, while in the minority, express a belief that not all fires are bad for the ecosystem. They also say they fear finite resources are being used unnecessarily.

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