Regardless how long you have lived or held property in Wallowa County, you probably know we live in a fire-prone landscape - meaning fires, whether caused naturally or by humans, have kept our forests and landscapes in balance and thriving. Frequent, low intensity fires would burn through our region - and maintained a complex and diverse forest system. However, for the last century fire has largely been removed from the landscape. This disruption, in addition to a history of extractive high grade logging - has left unnaturally high tree densities and hazardous fuels throughout our woodlands. Further, as our communities continue to grow, more people each day are building their lives and homes in these high fire prone areas.
Wallowa County just unveiled its Draft "Community Wildfire Protection Plan" (CWPP) at a public meeting with over 40 community members and partners. The CWPP is a plan that helps our community identify where the high fire prone areas are located - but then goes into the next steps of how we, as a community, can live harmoniously with wildfire. What steps can we take to make sure our individual lands, public lands - and our entire communities are resilient and fire adapted - and ready to survive a fire? “We live in a fire dependent ecosystem," said ODF Wallowa Unit Forester Matt Howard, "We all have a choice: to be proactive or reactive. ”
- COMMUNITIES RANKED AS EXTREME RISK FOR WILDFIRE
(1) Allen Canyon/Bear Creek/Minam (2) Imnaha Cooridor (3) Lostine Canyon and (4) Wallowa Lake/Ski Run
- COMMUNITIES RANKED AS HIGH RISK FOR WILDFIRE
(1) Alder Slope (2) David Creek (3) Divide/Upper Prarire Creek and (4) Joseph
To learn more about what you can do to make your property fire resilient - here are some excellent resources to get you started:
- Great Article from the Cheiftan on the CWPP Meeting and a community in Wallowa County on their way to becoming the first Firewise Community in Northeast Oregon. Becoming a Firewise Community is an effective way to bring your neighborhood together to think about preparing for a wildfire.
One community is already addressing those risks. Lostine has become the first community in northeast Oregon to begin the process of becoming an official “Firewise” community. “What these folks are doing for the Lostine, I hope will be a model,” said Howard. “They are working together to make their homes and properties more resilient to wild land fire. They will work through an evacuation plan. If a fire threatens their communities, they will have a plan, they won’t have to think it up as they go.”
If you were not able to make it to the meeting or would like to share - an audio recording and Powerpoint Presentation of the meeting are available.
To dig even further, the Draft Plan is located below:
* Appendices are available upon request
Note: Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) are the result of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 which, as part of a historical bipartisan legislative effort, call for communities to collaborate with state and local agencies to determine priorities for hazardous fuels projects on federal and private lands in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). It also allows communities to develop and list priorities that affect their ability to survive a wildland fire in their area.
For more information or questions: please contact Matt Howard, Oregon Department of Forestry Unit Forester at (541)886-2881; or Paul Karvoski, Wallowa County Emergency Manager/County Fire Chief at (541)426-4543 ext 165.