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Wildfire Risk

Changes to Statewide Risk Assessment in 2005

How does the 2005 Oregon Statewide Communities at Risk Assessment relate to the 2001 Communities at Risk list on the Federal Register?

The Federal Register Communities at Risk list expired in November, 2004. The 2005 Oregon Statewide Communities at Risk list and assessment replaces the Federal Register list.

How does the 2005 Oregon Statewide Communities at Risk Assessment relate to local risk assessments in Community Wildfire Protection Plans?

The 2005 Oregon Communities at Risk Assessment and local CWPPs complement each other but differ in scale. National guidance for both processes requires evaluation of the same four factors - risk, hazard, protection capability, and values.

The CWPP Handbook breaks value into two categories -"homes" and "other". Economic, social, and ecological values may also be included in CWPP assessments. Some assessments in Oregon also include structural vulnerability.

Statewide assessment data can be a good source for a CWPP assessment if better local data doesn't exist or if the community doesn't have the GIS capacity. But state-level data should only be used for local risk assessment if it is validated through a collaborative CWPP process. Some CWPPs rely primarily on the state-level risk assessment, but ideally they should incorporate more detailed local information and many already do so.

Statewide and community-level risk assessments continue to be improved and refined through development and sharing of data that is compatible and useful at both scales. Communities are being encouraged to develop more robust local wildfire risk information and to incorporate state-level GIS-based reporting methods.

Toward these goals, state wildfire planners have prioritized needs for data that will strengthen community level plans and will also improve the precision of state level assessments.

What are the differences between: 2005 Oregon community boundaries, 2001 boundaries, and WUI boundaries?

The new 2005 Oregon Statewide Risk Assessment community boundaries officially replace the "CAR" (Communities at Risk) boundaries in use from 2001-2004. The new boundaries are significantly larger- they include geographic areas within and surrounding populated areas.

The new boundaries are based on a fireshed concept, including areas near communities that have important economic, social, cultural, visual and ecological values, and where strategic fuel reduction can reduce risks from large, severe wildfires. The statewide process identified areas within two kilometers of populated jurisdictions, as well as the adjacent sixth field watershed(s), not exceeding eight kilometers.

Communities and their boundaries are identified by the state risk assessment process or during development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans. Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) is an area within or adjacent to an at-risk community identified in a CWPP.

In the absence of a CWPP, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act limits the WUI to within ½ mile of an At-Risk Community's boundary or 1½ miles when extenuating circumstances exist, such as sustained steep slopes or geographic features that aid in creating a fire break.