The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District, which provides wildfire protection on 1.8 million acres of land in Jackson and Josephine counties, began the Forestland Classification process in early 2017. This process identifies the lands that pay, through property taxes, for wildland fire protection.
The current rates landowners pay for wildland fire protection are:
- $0.94/acre for grazing lands (Class 3)
- $2.00/acre for timberlands (Class 1)
- $18.75 for minimum assessment lots
- $47.50 per improved lot
The Forestland Classification process is conducted by a seven-member committee comprised of:
- Max Bennett, chair, appointed by the director of Oregon State University Extension Service
- Mike Hussey, vice-chair, appointed by the Oregon State Fire Marshal
- Dave Larson, appointed by the Oregon State Fire Forester
- Jake Groves, appointed by the Josephine County Board of Commissioners
- Charlie Phenix, appointed by the Josephine County Board of Commissioners
- Randy White, appointed by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners
- Marty Main, appointed by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners
The committee completed its draft maps of the Southwest Oregon District at its May 18 meeting. The committee is planning to meet again in October to review digitized maps, and outline dates and locations for a series of public meetings.
Minutes of committee meetings:
The core Forestland Classification process the committee follows is described in Oregon Revised Statutes 526.305 through 526.350, and Oregon Administrative Rules 629-045-0020 through 0065. The process concludes with a public hearing and the filing of an order with the County Clerk.
The Forestland Classification process is repeated in five-year intervals. The ODF District monitors and updates classified lands when the committee isn’t convened.
Forestland Classification focuses on two primary forestland types, timberlands (Class 1) or grazing lands (Class 3). Most of the classified lands are privately owned, but also include state, county and city public lands that meet the state definition of “forestland” –- lands on which potentially flammable vegetation exists.
The owners of classified forestlands pay a “Forest Patrol Assessment” that provides for forestland fire protection within the ODF district and access to the Oregon Forest Landowners Protection Fund (OFLPF). This protection fund provides the revenue that pays for large costly fires in addition to the district’s annual protection budget.
Classification of forestlands will not increase or decrease the district’s set budgeted rate for fire protection.
This committee will also identify residential urban-fringe and rural properties under the Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act.