CULVER, Ore. -

Efforts to reduce the vulnerability of homes and property to wildfire has earned the Three Rivers Recreational Area the Firewise Communities/USA recognition. 

The National Firewise Communities Program, whose goal is to assist communities reduce their risk from wildfire, is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association.

The Three Rivers Recreational Area, located adjacent to Lake Billy Chinook, worked with Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue and Oregon Department of Forestry to conduct a wildfire hazard assessment and develop a plan to address safety and fuel load concerns. Residents then worked together to implement the plan.

The community is at continual risk to wildfire. Last fire season, the Geneva 12 fire came within feet of entering the subdivision.

“Achieving Firewise recognition is not a quick or easy process. The Three Rivers Recreational Area has done an outstanding job of creating a local Firewise Task Force and are beginning to implement the Firewise principles,” said Don Colfels, Fire Chief of Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue. “By preparing homes, structures, and egress before a wildfire occurs, Three Rivers has dramatically increased the chance that homes and structures will be protected when the next wildfire occurs.”

The Three Rivers Recreational Area joins the ranks of 881 recognized Firewise communities in the nation, one of 38 in Oregon, one of 14 and Central Oregon and the first recognized Firewise Community in Jefferson County.  According to Chief Colfels, “It took five years to get the community to this point. It is a great step forward. I would like to thank Penny Lippold and the community task force for stepping forward and taking on this task.”

The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program was designed as a tool that forestry and fire service professionals can use to work with residents to obtain voluntary compliance with existing wildfire safety rules, as well as to motivate community action toward wildfire safety in the absence of strict ordinances or laws. The recognition program encourages and acknowledges citizen involvement in reducing community wildfire risk.

For more information, contact Chief Don Colfels at 541-771-0992 or email at