Oregon State University’s new Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Fire Program recently pivoted from fire prevention education to helping landowners recover from recent wildfire losses. Fire Program Manager Carrie Berger said the program shifted it’s focus because it will take years for many to sort through the rubble and rebuild.
“We’ve been on the ground with the landowners, talking to them about their concerns. We’ve offered webinars on post-fire topics from tree hazard assessments, to erosion, to tree mortality, salvage logging, and a webinar on tax consideration.”
The Oregon Legislature allocated $2 million for the current biennium creating the program. OSU’s Fire Program is mandated to facilitate land management priorities, as well as create a healthy understanding and respect of fire through education and outreach.
“We’ve partnered with the NRCS to develop an ‘after the fire’ checklist so that landowners have a framework for moving from one part to the other on their landscape of what they need to look for, and then to document that information and to provide that to agencies who can then in turn provide funding.”
Four new regional wildland fire specialists recently joined the program’s team, and two more specialists have yet to be hired. Not only will the team create additional informative webinars, but they’ve also teamed up with the OSU Extension’s Oregon Natural Resources Education Program to develop a K-12 fire curriculum.
Berger added that the post-fire silver lining is that communities will recover from the devastation, and other communities that have gone through a similar event have come back stronger and more resilient.
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