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Oregon Department of Forestry issues grants to reduce wildfire risk

Clare Tallamy

The Oregon Department of Forestry announced Monday it has awarded $5 million to projects intended to reduce hazardous levels of forest fuels across the state.

The money was awarded in part to small forestland owners. One grant includes money to mechanically thin 160 acres of private land in Jackson County, near the Applegate. The grant funds were awarded to over 20 different proposals, according to Derek Gasperini with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

“All of these grants are for the same types of activities. And that's to reduce hazardous fuels and treat landscapes to lower their risk of catastrophic wildfire,” Gasperini says.

These grants are part of a measure, passed by the Oregon legislature, which provides funding to improve wildfire preparedness.

“Senate Bill 762, passed in 2021, provides multiple grant opportunities through the Department of Forestry and grant opportunities through other agencies to help build their resilience towards wildfire,” Gasperini says.

Many of the grants were awarded to places in southwest Oregon, in areas of extreme wildfire risk. Prescribed burns are one way that they are conducting hazardous fuel removal.

Some of the grant money also went to Firewise communities across the state. Those are areas where neighbors work together to reduce wildfire risk in their communities. The awards for these communities were up to $75,000.

ODF officials hope the forest treatments will start before the 2022 fire season.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.