North Powder Fire working to clean up properties thanks to grant funds

By on Monday, March 18th, 2024 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

NORTH POWDER – Early last year, 2023, The Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) announced the recipients of its competitive $18-million Community Wildfire Risk Reduction (CWRR) Grant.

These funds were intended to help communities across Oregon reach their goals of improving wildfire resiliency, using local programs and solutions.

Among the many recipients was the North Powder Rural Fire Protection District (NPRFPD).  At the time of the announcement Fire Chief Colby Thompson said the funds would be used to purchase new equipment to aid with creating defensible space around homes, this will support wildfire risk reduction. 

Recently Elkhorn Media Group (EMG) spoke with Chief Colby Thompson (CT) to get an update on how this program is going so far. 

(EMG) Chief Thompson, you mentioned back in May when this grant was announced that North Powder Fire Protection District would be purchasing some equipment with the funds, what have you been able to purchase?

(CT) We bought a skid steer and a brush mower and a woodchipper. In addition, the grant will pay for three years for us to work on people’s property and help them clean it. But. Make their land more defensible in a wildland fire.

(EMG) What is the first step to get this work done?

(CT) The first thing we will do is come out and inspect the property to see what there is that we can help do and what the landowners are willing to let us do. And then we put together a plan to bring a crew out and basically take care of that work for them.  The grant pays for us to do this so there is no out of pocket for the landowner.

(EMG) What is some of the work that can be done?

(CT) We can remove hazard trees and hazard brush.  We can mow thick heavy brush with the mower, we can mow grass, we can trim trees, those sorts of things.

(EMG) Why is it important for people to have this defensible space on their properties?

(CT) If a fire starts and it’s close to their home, this will keep the fire from basically encroaching on their house. When keeping the fuels down, if the fire does come into the house, the fire will be smaller and easier to manage.

(EMG) How do people get this help from you?

(CT) They just got to call me.

(EMG) How many crew members do you have that work on a project?

(CT) It depends on the size of the project. Sometimes we’ve taken out as many as 10 or 12 people, sometimes it’s only two or three, sometimes it’s a one-person job.

(EMG) Is this confined to city limits?

(CT) No, it covers all of our protection district, and we can actually partner with other fire agencies and go into their districts also.

(EMG) Thanks Chief Thompson for taking the time to speak with me about this, what a great way to help the community.