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Friday, July 1, 2016

Fire Program Review Committee completes work

News Release          
June 30, 2016 
Doug Grafe, 503-945-7204,
Jamie Paul, 503-945-7435,       
Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425,

The Oregon Department of Forestry has received final recommendations of the 2015-16 Fire Program Review Committee, focused on improving Oregon’s “complete and coordinated wildfire protection system.”

The recommendations conclude a seven-month process and represent the most comprehensive review of the Department’s fire program in over a decade.  Made up of forest landowners and operators, legislators, governor’s staff and agency partners, the committee proposed changes in three categories: sustainable large fire funding, sustainable wildfire organization, and wildfire policy.

Sustainable large fire funding recommendations included:
• Exploring the creation of a trust fund to pay the public share of large wildfire suppression costs on fires within ODF’s jurisdiction and for reducing wildland fire risk;
• Continuing the purchase  of an annual catastrophic wildfire insurance policy to cover firefighting budget overruns in severe seasons, and also examine other insurance products;
• Conducting a study of the cost equity of the state’s protection of west side Bureau of Land Management lands from wildfire.

Sustainable wildfire organization recommendations included exploring several options to improve the state’s “complete and coordinated wildfire protection system” as well as an option to increase “fire severity” funding by $1.5 million. This would add dollars to the Special Purpose Appropriation, spending authority provided by the Legislature to fund additional firefighting resources during severe wildfire seasons.

Wildfire policy improvements concentrated on the agency partnering to conduct new risk analysis studies.  Recommended studies include one to determine the potential of wildfire to move across ownership boundaries, used to allow forest managers to prioritize landscape-level fuels treatments; a study to compare the cost of fighting wildfires in the wildland-urban interface vs. pure forestland and a study to improve prescribed forest burning opportunities and efficiencies.  Prescribed burning is a proven tool to reduce wildfire hazards by removing excess forest vegetation. The committee also recommended that the agency continue to foster coordination between Rangeland Fire Protection Associations and the BLM and other partners with the aim to strengthen fire suppression capability on Oregon’s rangelands. Privately owned rangelands east of the Cascades do not receive wildfire protection from the state.

The full “2015/2016 Fire Program Review Committee Report to the State Forester” is available on the ODF website,


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The purpose of this blog is to provide breaking news about wildfire activity on the forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. We invite you to post questions or comments about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

What we do

Protection jurisdiction
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects 16 million acres of private and public forestlands from wildfire. This includes all private forestlands in Oregon as well as state and local government-owned forests, along with 2.8 million acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the state. In total there are about 30.4 million acres of forest in Oregon.

Fire suppression policy
The department fights fire aggressively, seeking to put out most fires at 10 acres or smaller. This approach minimizes damage to the timber resource and fish and wildlife habitat, and protects lives and property. It also saves money. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.


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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers in Salem, Ore., maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.