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Wildfire Risk Map Pulled Down, Redmond Meeting Still On

REDMOND, OR -- Barely a month after the Department of Forestry released a statewide wildfire risk map, the Oregon State Forester pulled down the original version. However, a public meeting in Central Oregon will go on as planned, this week.

ODF’s Derek Gasperini says the agency complied with a new law by getting a first version out by June 30th, "Senate Bill 762 has a lot of pieces for a lot of agencies. But, for the Department of Forestry - specifically, it required the Department of Forestry to work with Oregon State University, who are some of the nation’s leaders in fire science, to create a map that assesses wildfire risk at a property ownership level and identifies the wildland-urban interface; basically, where wildland fuels and vegetation meets homes and communities."

But, the State Forester says feedback from nearly 2,000 people over the past month helped them understand key areas of concern and are working with OSU to improve the map. Gasperini says those developers followed guidelines. "As the legislation requires, the risk is based on a combination of climate, weather, topography and vegetation," he told KBND News last week, "So, when you have a hot, dry climate; when you have troubling, steep topography - or proximity to those, then that increases the risk of occurrence of wildfire."

ODF sent out 100,000 notices to property owners in high and extreme risk areas, which are now subject to change with a new map. Any appeals are also moot.

ODF will be in Redmond this week, to talk with Central Oregonians about the map. Gasperini says they still want to provide a chance for Central Oregonians to talk to the agency and researchers from OSU, "The folks who have spent the last year writing the rules, building the map, just basically creating the policy and the science behind the risk assessment. And, sharing what the outcome of that map is, its purpose, [and] the appeal process."

Wednesday’s meeting is at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds at 7 p.m.

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