Senate bill allocates millions of dollars in funding to prevent future wildfires in Oregon

WILSONVILLE, Ore (KPTV) – Senate Bill 762 is an increased effort to prevent potentially deadly wildfires. However, the funds are not all for resources that help once a fire has already started.

On the contrary, a significant part of the funds is used to take action before starting.

Compliments of the $220 million grant, firefighters like Chad Hawkins are traveling the state and meeting with homeowners. They’re discussing how to make the area around their home a defensible, more flame-proof space because it “reduces the intensity,” Hawkins explained, and “allows people to get out of their homes, while allowing firefighters in there.

Hawkins said between as few as eight and as many as 600 owners have so far attended community town halls to talk about what this means.

Ricky Hawer, a landlord, said his “neighbourhood was designed to be in the forest” and attended a meeting “to see how it will affect us, and just try to educate yourself as much as possible”.

The bill and funds are intended to help create fire-adapted communities and increase the resilience of Oregon’s landscapes. People like Hawkins are gathering public input to come up with the best course of action, so they “can really understand or have a code designed for Oregonians.”

According to Hawkins, a code will help prevent fires from moving from the ground up to ignite treetops “where we see a lot of embers or ember rain.”

He added that things like broken sticks and foliage are the ignition sources embers seek out, and they’re usually hidden in places you might now think of – like gutters.

What they get out of those meetings will likely be codified in December, but actual property valuations are a long way off.

So far they have held 13 of the 17 meetings they plan to have.

Norman D. Briggs