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

State takes another crack at defining fire risks

Two more meetings of a rulemaking advisory committee on updating the statewide wildfire hazard maps will be on Zoom in the coming weeks.

The committee’s focus for these sessions will be to provide input on whether irrigation for farmland and agricultural crops should be incorporated into the calculations for wildfire hazard assessments.  

A March 7 already was held. Two additional meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, March 28 and Thursday, April 18. Both meetings are open to the public.

Access the Zoom meeting at the following link:  https://odf.zoom.us/j/8829567607?omn=94409353162/.
A post-meeting recording will be posted on the ODF YouTube channel at  https://www.youtube.com/c/oregondepartmentofforestry/. For special accommodations, contact ODF public affairs officials at least 72 hours before the meeting at 503-945-7200 or by email at [email protected].

Public outreach meetings will soon be scheduled and announced to discuss the mapping process and related wildfire programs. Outreach will occur during April through June.

To subscribe to information related to updates on the statewide wildfire hazard map, visit the ODF website at  https://www.oregon.gov/odf/aboutodf/Pages/email-updates.aspx/.

This is the second major go-round on the map program. The wildfire risk project  was mandated by Senate Bill 762, the 2021 legislation that was designed to serve as a comprehensive wildfire preparedness and resiliency bill amid the fires that have plagued the state, including the Labor Day 2020 blazes that affected huge swathes of the Santiam Canyon.

The Oregon Department of Forestry worked with Oregon State University’s College of Forestry on maps that included wildland-urban interface boundaries and five fire risk classes. The maps debuted in June of 2022 but were recalled shortly thereafter amid withering criticism. Concerns were raised about the accuracy of the maps, whether the process that resulted was fair and possible insurance challenges for property owners.

ODF and OSU began gathering feedback on the resumption of the map-making effort in August of 2022.

The 2023 Legislature passed Senate Bill 80 that made several changes to the map project, including changing the name from a “risk” map to a “hazard” map, reducing the number of hazard classes from five to three, and changing the appeal and notification requirements.  

Comments or questions about any aspect of the implementation of Senate Bill 762 and Senate Bill 80 may be submitted by email at any time to [email protected].    

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