Nearly three-quarters of a million Oregon residents live in forested areas. While all the greenery makes for a beautiful living environment, dry and dead vegetation leaves people in these areas vulnerable to wildfires.
Are you one of them? Get involved by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 3. Commit a couple of hours, or the entire day, and watch as your actions help reduce your community's wildfire risk.
"Communities that survive wildfires have one thing in common - they are prepared," said Cindy Kolomechuk, the Oregon Department of Forestry's National Fire Plan Coordinator. "Taking the time to create defensible space around homes can make all the difference in the world."
Creating defensible space around homes is a proven way to make it less vulnerable to wildfire. Kolomechuk pointed rural residents to the national Firewise Communities USA Program for tips. "Defensible space" simply means to:
- Maintain the landscape around a home to reduce fire danger.
- Provide safe access to firefighters so they can protect it.
The National Fire Protection Association through its Firewise Communities Program has teamed up with State Farm Insurance to provide cash awards of $500 to 20 individual projects to be undertaken during the May 3 event. Two Oregon communities, Grants Pass and La Pine, received awards to support community preparedness events.
In addition, the Rogue Valley Fire Cooperative received $900 to support local Wildfire Community Preparedness efforts through the "1,000 Safer Places Firewise Challenge."
Kolomechuk encouraged residents of communities that intermingle with forested and other undeveloped lands to challenge their family, friends and local organizations to participate in Wildfire Preparedness Day.
"By working with your neighbors to reduce wildfire hazards," she said, "you can help protect homes and even entire communities from future wildfires."