BEND, OR -- In an effort to help people create more defensible space, Deschutes County is now accepting applications for fall Fuels Reduction grants. Money is available for communities and neighborhoods to conduct short-term projects.
Deschutes County Forester Kevin Moriarty says the goal is to remove vegetation and other flammable materials within 100' of a home. "We always prioritize funding requests for work in that first ignition zone - that zero to five feet, because that’s really where you should start your work. There’s no reason to really be trying to treat vegetation in that 100-foot area if you haven’t done any of the work within the five feet." He tells KBND News, "Another project a lot of people do is removing bark mulch adjacent to their home, and replacing it with gravel. There’s been several studies that show bark mulch is highly flammable, if you get embers that fall into it that it could ignite your home."
Moriarty also says priority is given to those trying to earn FireWise recognition or those already certified, "For this particular grant, we’re really trying to incentivize becoming FireWise." It's a nationally recognized education program that encourages neighborhoods to create an action plan. "What are the risks in your community? What’s the work that needs to be done? You can start creating a timeline," says Moriarty. Some of that work could then be funded by this fall grant or others offered by the county to increase defensible space. There’s also a push to evaluate evacuation routes, "Within that action plan, you can not only come up with defensible space projects, but a plan for if your community does need to leave because of a wildfire, what is the plan?"
Online grant applications for this latest round of fuels reduction funding are accepted through 5 p.m. on September 22nd. Interested applicants can learn more and ask questions at an in-person and virtual meeting held Tuesday, September 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the Deschutes County Road Department main conference room, located at 61150 SE 27th Street in Bend. RSVP to Kevin.Moriarty@deschutes.org.