Oregon’s Wildfire Map Ignites a Fire Storm of Criticism


In June the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) released a map of wildfire risk on every tax lot in the state. The Oregon Wildfire Risk Explorer map came about when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 762, a blueprint to help protect 1.8 million tax lots from wildfire.


The map was designed by the department and Oregon State University. While it meant to protect from wildfire, it generated a different kind of firestorm.


Complaints. Lots of them.


Property owners in high and extreme risk categories — 750 of them — say they have been mislabeled. Another 1,250 people — not in those categories — also complained that the state got it wrong.


That’s emails.


The department received hundreds of voicemails. There are still 1,700 of them that have not been listened to and won’t be addressed.


And what are people saying? They’re saying the Oregon Department of Forestry and the map have mistakenly placed them in high fire-risk zones and that decision is lowering their property values and is raising their insurance rates.


After all those complaints, Oregon State Forester Cal Mukumoto said the state is withdrawing the map. It is canceling notices to those property owners who got stuck in the high and extreme risk categories.


We know how important it is to get this right,” Mukumoto, said. We knew the first iteration of an undertaking of this scale and complexity wouldnt be perfect, but we have been and continue to be committed to improving the map and our processes related to it.”


Addressing the complaints themselves, ODF spokesman Derek Gasperini said most questions center around why.


There are some legitimate questions about inconsistencies in how or why a particular community has different risk properties that are right next to each other and we want to be able to better explain that,” he said. There may be places where we didnt get it quite right.”


So the state is putting things on hold for now.


We want to take that seriously, hit pause on the map and investigate what may be anomalies, or what may be a gap in understanding,” he said. We want to take both of those as real concerns. We just want to make sure that the settings and the way that the map is done makes sense to folks and that we have it right.”


Oregon Sen. Jeff Golden is the bill’s author. He said it’s important to prepare Oregon for the risk that comes with climate change. Those risks are hotter, more arid summers and lots of wildfire risk. He said it’s important to get it right and “correct as we go,” but it is also equally as important to not wait years to get this done.


Our state and our communities are in imminent danger,” he said. We are trying to defend our state from destruction, and I dont think anybody can say that thats made up when you look at a dozen cities in Oregon and California that have been destroyed.”


Source link: OPB — https://bit.ly/3zNIkym

Source link: OregonLive.com — https://bit.ly/3Aa1IHl

Source link: Insurance Business America — https://bit.ly/3Aa0Jad

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