News & Information
Oregon’s wildfire environment has changed significantly in the past decade. Climate change is bringing us hotter, drier summers and historic levels of drought, resulting in severe wildfire conditions and longer, more complex and more expensive fire seasons. We find ourselves at a critical juncture when it comes to wildfire and need to take bold action to mitigate further catastrophic impacts to Oregonians, communities and our state’s natural resources.
Senate Bill 762 laid the foundation for that bold action. The bill passed in 2021 with bipartisan support and made investments in fire-adapted communities, wildfire response and resilient landscapes. Eleven state agencies are tasked with implementing the various components of SB 762. The Oregon Department of Forestry was directed to develop and maintain a statewide wildfire risk map. The map identifies the risk of a wildfire occurring in a given area to help determine where resources are needed most to protect lives and homes when a wildfire does occur.
In addition to writing the rules for map development and maintenance with a rules advisory committee, we were also tasked with defining the wildland-urban interface and assigning a risk classification at the property ownership level (1.8 million tax lots across Oregon). This work had to be completed by June 30, 2022, less than a year after the bill was adopted. We knew the first iteration of an undertaking of this scale and complexity wouldn’t be perfect, but we have been and continue to be committed to improving the map and our processes related to it. At the same time, our partner agencies are working to collect input as they develop the new codes for defensible space (Office of the State Fire Marshal) and home hardening (Building Codes Division) and address concerns related to homeowner’s insurance (Division of Financial Regulation).
We’ve been soliciting and collecting questions, concerns, and other input since the statewide wildfire risk map was released just over a month ago. We’ve received specific feedback from nearly 2,000 Oregonians that has helped us understand the key areas of concern related to risk classification. We have a window of opportunity before the new codes go into effect to take some immediate steps toward addressing those concerns, and we will be taking full advantage of the opportunity.
As required by SB 762, we posted a wildfire risk map on the Oregon Explorer on June 30, 2022 and sent notifications to property owners in the extreme and high risk classifications shortly after. In response to input received since posting, we have decided to remove the current iteration of the wildfire risk map from the Oregon Explorer and withdraw the notices sent. We will immediately begin working with Oregon State University on some refinements to improve the accuracy of risk classification assignments based on what we’ve heard from property owners thus far.
Since we are withdrawing the initial map and notifications, the current appeals process will end and any appeals filed will become moot. For those who did submit an appeal, we will be reviewing the information submitted and using it to identify any additional areas where we may need to take a closer look at the data. Please note, this decision does not impact the code development and adoption processes currently underway through Office of the State Fire Marshal for defensible space or Building Codes Division for home hardening.
While we met the bill’s initial deadline for delivering on the map, there wasn’t enough time to allow for the type of local outreach and engagement that people wanted, needed and deserved. Once this round of refinements is complete, we are planning to bring a draft of the updated map to communities for discussion and input. After another round of revisions based on local input, the map will be finalized. We will then post an updated map on the Oregon Explorer and issue new notices to property owners in the extreme and high risk classifications, which will start a new appeal period. We are in the process of developing a plan and timeline to complete these activities, including public engagement and outreach opportunities. We will share that publicly as soon as it is complete.
We know how important it is to get this right, and we’re fully committed to continuing to work with the Governor’s Office, legislators, our partner agencies, local governments, and Oregonians to do just that.
Shady Cove PaintCare Event!
Free Paint Drop-off and Giveaway Event for Households & Businesses
DATE: September 10, 2022
TIME:9 a.m. – Noon
LOCATION: Shady Cove Public Works
1008 Celtic Circle
Shady Cove, OR 97539
Space is limited. Tell us your expected arrival time at https://paint-shady-cove.eventbrite.com
MEDFORD, Ore. – As temperatures rise in the Rogue Valley this week, shelters will be open in Medford, Ashland, and Grants Pass to help residents cool down.
In Ashland, a cooling shelter will be operating all week at the Gresham Room of the Ashland Public Library during the following hours:
- Monday, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
- Friday from 1:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
- Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Medford cooling shelters will be open at the following locations:
- Monday from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at 200 North Riverside Avenue (the old Inn at the Commons)
- Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at 205 South Central Avenue (Medford Library)
- Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at 205 South Central Avenue (Medford Library)
- Thursday from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at 205 South Central Avenue (Medford Library)
- Friday from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at 85 South Holly Street (First Presbyterian Church)
The Josephine County Food Bank is partnering with Unitarian Universalists of Grants Pass to open a shelter at 129 NW E Street, Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
JACKSON & JOSEPHINE COUNTIES, Ore. – Due to dry vegetation, hot conditions, thunderstorms and numerous active fires in the region, the fire danger level on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine counties will increase to “extreme” (red) at midnight on Tuesday, August 2, 2022. The extreme danger applies to the City of Grants Pass as well.
The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) will remain at Level 2 (two). These regulations impact 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District.
- The use of power saws is prohibited, excluding electric chainsaws.
- The cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited.
- The mowing of dry or dead grass is prohibited.
- The operation of any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine not specifically mentioned above is prohibited.
The following fire prevention regulations are currently in effect and will remain in effect until the fire danger level drops significantly:
- Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water, and designated locations.
- Debris burning, including the use of burn barrels, is prohibited.
- Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in approved fire rings at designated campgrounds. In other locations clear of vegetation, portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
- Fireworks on or within 1/8th of a mile of forestland are prohibited.
- Any electric fence controller in use shall be listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and operated in compliance with the manufacturer’s fire-safe instructions.
- The use of exploding targets is prohibited.
- The use of tracer ammunition or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base is prohibited.
- Motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, may only be used on improved roads free of flammable vegetation, except when used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
- Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling, except on state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher. All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must be equipped with one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher.
May brings renewed focus on wildfire awareness during drought
MEDFORD — The Jackson County Domestic and Public Well Assistance Program offers up to $7,500 per person to owners who faced challenges with their domestic and public wells located in Jackson County throughout our severe drought in 2021.
On April 13, 2021, our State Governor, Kate Brown, signed executive order No. 21-08 declaring a state of drought emergency in the Jackson County area. This drought has caused issues with water flow and the concentration of particulates in water flowing from wells in Jackson County.
The program aims to financially assist the affected owners of domestic and public wells located within Jackson County to repair existing wells or even construct new ones.
CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION
- The residential property was occupied by the legal owner as their primary residence during the 2021 declared drought, and the residence uses a domestic use well for residential needs
- The residential property was occupied by a family member of the legal owner during the 2021 declared drought, and the residence uses a domestic use well for residential needs
- There existed a legal agreement between the legal property owner and a renter of a property during the 2021 declared drought, and the residence uses a domestic use well for residential needs.
- The well existed within a Public Water System and was registered as an active well for domestic use during the 2021 declared drought
And you have filed a Dry Well Report via one of the two options below:
- The legal owner contacted the Jackson County Watermaster’s office and registered a dry well or slow recharge domestic well complaint during the 2021 declared drought; or
- The legal owner completed a Dry Well Reporting Form on the Oregon Water Resources Department web page.
During the 2021 declared drought, If the legal owner did not file a well complaint but is or has experienced well issues after April 13, 2021, as a result of the 2021 declared drought, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Jackson County Watermaster’s office.
Financial compensation will be established based on the following criteria:
- A complaint was made, or a Dry Well Form was submitted due to the 2021 declared drought.
- The legal owner incurred financial costs due to issues with a domestic well as a result of the 2021 declared drought.
- The legal owner is seeking financial assistance to address their well issues due to the 2021 declared drought.
WELL OWNER PROCESS
If you are an interested domestic well owner, you may obtain an application form from the Jackson County Watermaster website, OR the Jackson County Watermaster’s Office at 10 S Oakdale Avenue, Room 309, in Medford.
Jackson County Watermaster stated that you must complete this application and provide all the information and documentation requested to become eligible for financial compensation. Required information and documentation include a w-9, receipts/invoices and proof of payment, or estimate from a well driller, pump installer, or other professional, and any other supporting documentation you may have.
Submit your application and other documents by either emailing email@example.com, or by mail or in-person to the Jackson County Watermaster’s Office.
JACKSON COUNTY PROCESS
Jackson County will review your application and all supporting documentation for completeness following your submissions.
They will determine if you meet the criteria and are eligible to participate in the Domestic and Public Well Assistance Program. Financial compensation will be awarded to qualified applicants on a first received basis, as long as funds are available. Funds may be taxable, so consider consulting with a tax advisor.
By accepting funds, you agree to allow Jackson County staff access to the property to complete a compliance check as deemed necessary. The maximum award is limited to $7,500.00 per applicant, property owner, or public water system.
- $7,500.00 toward new well construction due to an existing well going dry due to the 2021 declared drought.
- $5,000.00 toward deepening an existing well that qualifies under Oregon Construction Standards (OAR Chapter 690, Divisions 200 through 230) due to the 2021 declared drought.
- $1,500.00 toward installing a new holding tank, meeting the requirements of NSF Standard 61, as a result of the 2021 declared Drought.
- $2,000.00 toward treatment, including disinfection, Arsenic, Nitrate, Iron, and hardness removal; this includes well casing cleanout and reconditioning due to the 2021 declared drought.
- $500.00 for hauled water due to a dry well during the 2021 declared drought.
Here is a no-cost opportunity for you!
Jackson County Fire District 3 will be hosting Northwest Youth Corps to help you create defensible space around your home.
This 12-week project will focus on communities ranked highest risk for wildfire impact to structures.
Focus areas include:
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