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Rimrock West, Oregon

Residents from Rimrock West, Oregon, recently received grant funding to support their efforts in reducing their community’s wildfire risk. Today, 90% of the town now follows the Firewise standards to help protect their homes from wildfires. At its annual meeting in March, Rimrock West will be awarded Firewise recognition from the National Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program.

The residents of Rimrock West have known for a while that they were at a high risk of wildfire due to their thick vegetation throughout the community, most of which lay close to their homes. Every year many property owners have worked to help reduce the risk by raking up pine needles and cleaning up dead brush.

They knew, however, that even these efforts would not be enough to help save their homes in the event of a wildfire, and they were at a loss as what to do next because they knew that their situation was quite dangerous, yet they lacked the technical expertise that would be required to help fix their situation. So, they turned to their local, state, and federal fire agencies for help.

In an effort to try and correct the situation, Oregon’s Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Stu Otto and Elden Ward, in collaboration with Bend Fire and Rescue and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), conducted a fire safety assessment of every single property within Rimrock West. From these assessments, they were able to provide each resident with a detailed list of potential risks that they found on their property and offered information on how to reduce them.

Rimrock West homeowners were quick to take action. As they learned about the risk associated with flying embers that can land on roofs and ignite, they promptly took action on their yard maintenance to help interrupt the fuel pathway from the brush to their homes with the help from the free Firewise Communities/USA Program tips.

“Ninety-one percent of Rimrock West properties now meet Firewise standards”, said the president of Rimrock Homeowner’s Association, Stephen Clark. “By any standard, this collaborative effort between the Oregon Department of Forestry, Bend Fire and Rescue BLM and our homeowners has been hugely successful.”

The assessments were made available to the residents of Rimrock West when they applied for their Firewise Community status and recieved a National Fire Plan $5,000 matching grant. The Homeowner’s Association will receive the grant at its annual meeting in March.

“This project was a remarkable effort by the residents of Rimrock West,” Otto said. “They took the advice we gave to the associations Fuels and Fire committee and went after it. These folks are real go-getters.”