Wildland Urban Interface and Nationwide Wildfire Risk Map Available June 30

The Wilderness Urban Interface (WUI) and nationwide wildfire risk map will be available through the Oregon Explorer Online Tool on June 30, as required by Senate Bill 762 (2021). The map is a tool to inform decision-making and planning related to mitigating wildfire risk for communities across Oregon.

Oregon State University is producing the map based on administrative rules adopted by the Forestry Board at their June 8 meeting. The rules – developed in consultation with a rule-making advisory committee consisting of 26 members representing a wide range of interest groups – outline:

  • boundary criteria for the WUI,
  • how each of five veldfire risk classes is allocated to individual properties,
  • how to notify property owners in the extreme and high risk classes, and
  • how property owners can appeal against their assigned risk class.

With the rules in place, OSU worked diligently to create the card and have it available by June 30th. Out of a total of 1.8 million taxpayers in Oregon, ODF and OSU currently estimate that the map will identify:

  • 4% of Oregon’s territory is in the wildland urban interface, which includes 956,496 tax lots.
  • 8% of the total tax lots in Oregon are in the wildland urban interface and in high or extreme risk classifications, which are 120,276 tax lots.
  • About 80,000 of the 120,276 tax parties in the WUI and high or extreme risk classifications currently have a structure that may be subject to new codes or standards, which is about 5% of tax lots.

Owners of property in the high and extreme risk classes will receive written notice from ODF indicating the property’s risk class and whether it is in the wildland urban interface. The notice will inform them whether they may be subject to future defensible space or building code requirements and how to find information on those requirements. It will also provide information on the process of appealing against a property’s risk classification.

While property owners in the high and extreme risk classes will receive letters about their property, anyone can use the online risk map to get information on where they live.

ODF will soon announce briefings to address questions about the map’s function and purpose and help Oregonians understand the process of appealing to their risk class.

For properties in the WUI and a high or extreme risk classification, Senate Bill requires 762 actions to help reduce the risk of wildfires by adopting defensible space and house hardening building codes. Oregon State Fire Marshal passes defensible space code requirements through a public lawsuit. Code adoption of defensible space requirements will take place in December 2022, after the card validation and appeal period has closed. Those requirements will only apply later. Visit OSFM’s website for more information. Building Code Division (BCD) will adopt house hardening building codes through a public process. Building codes will be accepted on 1 October 2022 and will take effect on 1 April 2023. Visit BCD’s website for more information.

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