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Wildfire Risk

Policy Framework for Assessment and Planning

Oregon's policy framework for community-level wildfire risk assessment, risk reduction and planning is based primarily on two pieces of legislation:

The Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act (SB360)

SB360 responded to several escalating problems:

  • wildfires burning homes
  • firefighters risking their lives in conflagrations
  • rising costs of wildfire suppression

The act provides four important steps that lead to a more effective wildfire protection system in Oregon:

  • defining forestland-urban interface areas
  • establishing a process and system for classifying fire risk in these areas
  • establishing standards for forestland-urban interface property owners so they can manage or minimize fire hazards and risks
  • providing means for establishing adequate, integrated fire protection systems

SB360 requires property owners in identified forestland-urban interface areas to reduce wildfire fuels around structures and along driveways. In some cases, property owners may also be required to create fuel breaks along property lines and roadsides.

To help homeowners meet the requirements of SB360, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) developed the Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act Property Evaluation & Self-Certification Guide.

The Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act is fully described in Oregon Revised Statutes 477.015 through 477.061, and Oregon Administrative Rules 629-044-1000 through 629-044-1110.

The Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) and Community Wildfire Protection Plans

One of the main provisions of the HFRA is direction for Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP). Many Oregon communities have developed wildfire protection plans as outlined in the HFRA that also encompass provisions of SB360.

CWPPs define community boundaries and wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas, describe local wildfire hazards and values at risk, and lay out how the community will reduce risk and respond in the event of a wildfire.

CWPPs are developed by community-level Local Coordinating Groups, which may be based on existing social networks (e.g. watershed councils) or, in other cases, newly formed stakeholder groups. The HFRA offers priority funding to hazardous fuels reduction projects in areas where CWPPs are in place.

Most communities in Oregon have completed their initial CWPPs. Nearly all could benefit from more precise information about factors that contribute to wildfire risk and community readiness. Many of these factors are dynamic and change over time.

For these reasons, CWPPs are “living” documents, intended to be continually refined and improved. A primary purpose of the Oregon Wildfire Risk Explorer is to help communities accomplish these goals.