MADRAS, Ore. - Jefferson County residents are being encouraged to prepare their homes for the impending wildfire season and the expected increased risk of wildfire activity -- and if they do, they could get some money as an incentive.
The county is giving you $300 if you clear flammable materials from your yard.
In order to be eligible for the reward, you need to submit before-and-after pictures of your yard to the county and also have the fire department come out and inspect it.
The idea is to encourage preparedness for the wildfire season.
The economic advantage to this program would extend beyond the incentive the county's giving for cleaning up.
"It can be more costly, say, to be hit by wildfire in our community rather than to take steps to mitigate it," program assistant Shelby Knight said Monday.
The county has allocated $19,000 for this third year of the program program, enough to cover 63 houses. The incentive used to be given out on a per-acre basis, but to streamline the program, it was changed to a $300 flat rate.
The county hopes the program will spread knowledge and make communities safer.
"I think this is a valuable program for really encouraging communities to take the first step, to educate themselves and their neighbors, and to take steps to mitigate the impacts of wildfire in their communities," Knight said.
It's important to remember exactly what to remove, though -- for example, you want to remove enough flammable brush so there's not a direct path to your home. There are drawbacks to removing too much.
"If we take out a lot of the native vegetation, we get a lot of dust storms," Crooked River Ranch resident Gayle Mischler said. "And so everything we've been told is that you want to do as little as possible to disturb the native vegetation."
Only about 40 people have taken advantage of the offer since it began in 2013, and the county is hoping for a jump this year.
For more tips and info on what to clear from your home: http://www.firefree.org/10steps/
It's also the topic of our new KTVZ.COM Poll: Would you do fire prevention work around your home for a $300 incentive?
Here's the recent release from the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and Firewise:
National trends show that wildfire risk and the size of many wildfires are growing. Due to increasing wildland fire activity over the past decade, Jefferson County fire officials continue to educate residents and communities about what they can do to prepare before a wildfire strikes. Wildfires DO NOT have to burn everything in their paths.
As an incentive, private landowners are eligible to receive $300 if they reduce the threat of wildfire to their residence by cleaning up the area around their home, called the ignition zone. This will increase their home’s resistance to wildfire while also saving firefighters’ lives.
“Homeowners may not know that flying embers from fire a mile away can land on their property and ignite. If homeowners take action on their yard maintenance to help interrupt the fuel pathway from the brush to their homes they can greatly reduce their risk”, said Brian Huff, Jefferson County Fire District #1 chief.
Funding for this project is provided by the Jefferson County Title III program that seeks to advance property owner and public awareness on implementing the principals of Ready, Set, Go! ™ and Firewise.
Residents are encouraged to follow the principles of Ready, Set, Go! ™, which help residents be Ready with preparedness understanding, be Set with situational awareness when fire threatens, and to Go, acting early when a fire starts.
To learn more about the cash incentive program, Ready, Set, Go!™, or Firewise, please visit www.coic2.org and click on “Economic Development” then “Community Forestry” and choose Jefferson County. To see if you are eligible for the $300, please contact the person below who represents your region.
Crooked River Ranch
Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue, 541-923-6776
NFPA Wildfire Field Representative, Gary Marshall, 541-408-2935, email@example.com
Madras and all other regions
Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, Shelby Knight, firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-548-9535
Tips for Jefferson County Residents:
- Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is a main cause of wildfires.
- If camping or hunting, check local restrictions on campfires. Use an approved gas stove as an alternative for heating and cooking.
- Dispose of smoking materials properly. Don’t throw them out your window.
- Avoid parking and idling in dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass.
- Keep water available when using welding equipment or cutting torches around grass and brush. A five-gallon bucket of water with a tote sack in it could prove valuable if sparks or hot pieces of metal catch nearby grass on fire.
- Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other gas-powered equipment in dry grass, which could ignite after coming into contact with hot mufflers.
How Everyone Can Prepare for Wildfire:
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
- Ground cover should be mainly non-flammable or fire resistant. Dry grass should be cut to a height of less than 4 inches.
- Remove grass, leaves, needles, twigs, bushes within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and out buildings including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
- Wildfire can spread to tree tops. If you have large trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.
- Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
- Landscape your area with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant information.
About Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC)
COIC serves the local governments of Central Oregon, providing regional collaboration, efficiencies and service delivery for a strong local economy and quality of life. COIC works with the fire districts in Jefferson and Crook counties to improve county-wide strategies to reduce the risk of wildfire.
Firewise is a nationally recognized program where communities develop an action plan that guides residential risk reduction activities, while engaging and encouraging their neighbors to become active participants in building a safer place to live. More than 1,220 communities in the U.S. – including over 100 in Oregon – have dramatically lowered their risk of wildfire damage by participating in this program, and USAA Insurance now offers discounts to their Oregon policy holders in active Firewise Communities.