Oregon Puts Wildfire Risk Map On Hold
The Oregon Department of Forestry was scheduled to release the next draft of the controversial Wildfire Risk Map in March, but that has been put on hold, thanks to action by state lawmakers. Under 2021’s Senate Bill 762, ODF was charged with the creation of the map, but the first draft that was released in August proved so unpopular statewide, the Department pumped the breaks for another six months. Eleven bills have been proposed in Salem to ether greatly trim the map, making substantial changes, or scrapping the proposal altogether.
“Our goal this session is to get resources and expertise to Oregonians already doing good work on the ground to protect their properties and neighborhoods,” said Senator Jeff Golden, a Democrat from Ashland. Golden chairs the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and was the chief sponsor of SB 762. “It’s important to get that done and to do all we can to ease the homeowner insurance challenges that the era of megafires has brought us before moving forward with any map.”
The wildfire risk map, which supporters say was to be a “science-based” planning tool, was developed with Oregon State University, as well as several other experts. After the initial release last summer, the Department and OSU reported hundreds of calls and comments, many opposed to the map. ODF said they will continue to work with OSU to make technical adjustments while closely following what happens in Salem.
“As we’ve been working with Oregon State University on technical adjustments to the map and planning for community outreach and engagement, we’ve also been keeping a close eye on the policy conversations happening in different venues,” explained Cal Mukumoto, Oregon State Forester and director of the Oregon Department of Forestry. “There were some great recommendations that came out of the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council’s first annual report and opportunities identified by Wildfire Programs Director Doug Grafe related to the map that I hope the Legislature gets the opportunity to explore during this session.”
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