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Homes in Colton and Molalla that are close to forest land can access free program to help stay safe

Homeowners in the Molalla and Colton area that live on or near forest land, and may be worried about potential fire danger, have a resource they may not be aware of.

Thanks to a grant from Clackamas County and implemented through the Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Forestry, those homeowners can get a review of their property and some help making it safer.

"Essentially, we will go into communities and implement Firewise specs," Oregon Department of Forestry's Matt Hernandez said. "We'd like to get whole communities to dial into Firewise USA."

For now, though, it is individual properties that Hernandez and his team are dealing with.

FILE PHOTO - A grant through Clackamas County funds an Oregon Department of Forestry program that will help assess fire danger in homes in or around forest areas.

"I'll do a home assessment based on their property and provide recommendations," Hernandez said. "We then pretty much manicure it and have a whole gamut of specs we hit."

The grant, which runs out at the end of December, is meant for all of Clackamas County that may have legitimate wildfire concerns in and around their respective properties. Hernandez said the program primarily targets those high-risk communities that are in and around forest property. He said that even though the grant is scheduled to run out at the end of the year, he is hopeful of an extension because the program still has money to use. If not an extension, he said, hopefully a new grant of some kind.

The program is free to the public as well.

"We pay up front and then get reimbursed from the grant," Hernandez explained. "Homeowners don't pay anything."

Hernandez and his team will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or two to go over the property and identify dangers and solutions.

FILE PHOTO - The memories of the September wildfires in the Molalla and Colton areas are still fresh. The Oregon Department of Forestry has a program to assess wildfire danger to homes in and around forested areas.

"We are primarily focusing on the first 200 feet from the home, but we can go further if there are threats to the 200-foot buffer," Hernandez explained. "Past 200 feet the vegetation we cut to open the canopy gets put on the forest floor. Within 200 feet, we drag it all out, chip it and leave the piles on the property.

"It's something that will really help communities out," Hernandez added. "This aren't super high risk, but with the climate changing, things getting drier, fuels are just having longer and longer to dry out. We have heat waves that end up killing trees and it's a huge issue we are trying to adjust to."

Anyone in the Molalla-Colton area interested in more information or arranging an examination of property in or near forest land, can call Hernandez at 971-202-6105.


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