News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Raising awareness of wildfire threat

People in Sisters scarcely need reminding of the threat posed by wildfire. Sisters Country has seen nearly two decades of major wildfires that have disrupted life and threatened the local economy and the health and well-being of citizens.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state and local fire agencies and organizations, is using time to encourage the public to create defensible space around homes this spring and prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires.

When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many benefits provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands. During the 2019 season, 250,000 acres in the Northwest were consumed by wildfire, with almost 80,000 acres burned in Oregon.

People were responsible for starting 1,192 fires that burned around 22,000 acres. Oregon Department of Forestry’s gross large-fire costs were $32.8 million, and many neighborhoods were forced to evacuate. Each year, over 70 percent of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped debris burning and campfires left unattended.

Before heading outdoors, contact the agency or landowner who manages the lands at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should review these restrictions before building campfires, burning debris, or using equipment that could ignite dry vegetation.

This year, Keep Oregon Green is launching a new wildfire prevention campaign and releasing four new public service announcements to help raise awareness. The announcements feature movie, television and voice actor Sam Elliott, who is the official voice of Smokey Bear. Each announcement will encourage residents and tourists to practice basic wildfire safety while enjoying the outdoors. Elliott has a home in Oregon and has experienced fire first-hand near his other home in California, so he well understands the fire risk that threatens our state every year.

Pride in Oregon is the driving force behind Keep Oregon Green’s campaign and new website. Stunning campaign photos of Oregon’s iconic landscapes will encourage everyone to protect our state’s scenic recreation areas. Using the hashtag, #OregonOurOregon, Keep Oregon Green wants you to share photos of your favorite natural areas and thoughts for keeping Oregon free of wildfire. The new campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org and its social media platforms.

During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be shared each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org, and the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/odf.

 

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