The Oregon Department of Forestry says the release of an updated state wildfire risk map, which was introduced last year and then pulled down under controversy, will be postponed.
The new map was set to be released in March.
The department said the decision to postpone comes after conversations last week with the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Programs Advisory Council.
“As we’ve been working with Oregon State University on technical adjustments to the map and planning for community outreach and engagement, we’ve also been keeping a close eye on the policy conversations happening in different venues,” said Oregon State Forester Cal Mukumoto in a statement. “There were some great recommendations that came out of the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council’s first annual report and opportunities identified by Wildfire Programs Director Doug Grafe related to the map that I hope the Legislature gets the opportunity to explore during this session.”
There are also several bills in the Oregon legislature proposing changes in how the map is developed, the department said. Those include determining which areas are assigned a risk classification to abolishing the map entirely.
Mukumoto said he doesn’t want to use resources on the project before knowing what the legislature will ultimately decide to do.
The original Oregon Explorer Wildfire Risk Map, mandated by Senate Bill 762 in 2021, was released on June 30, 2022. The Department of Forestry sent notices to property owners who were considered to be in the high or extreme risk classifications.
But the state pulled the map on August 4 after receiving feedback from some 2,000 Oregonians.
Sunriver resident Bill Worden told Central Oregon Daily News last August he’s done everything he can on his property to lower the wildfire risk to his house. But on the wildfire risk map, he was still at the same risk as other properties that had not taken precautionary measures.
“The problem that I have with it is they’ve done that by satellite imagery and potentially talking to other people, but they’ve not done a real boots-on-the-ground assessment,” said Worden.
ODF said at the time it based the risk classifications on weather, climate, topography and vegetation.