Property owners in Jackson County whose land has been newly classified as forestland within the current reclassification process will begin receiving notifications of their forest patrol assessment from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Southwest Oregon district this week. This is the final phase of the Forestland Classification process that the district has been undergoing since 2017. This is not at all related to the Wildfire Risk Map, released in July 2022.
The ODF Southwest Oregon District provides wild-land fire protection services to forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties, funded by a forest patrol assessment on protected lands. The Jackson and Josephine County Forestland Classification Committee was formed five years ago to reassess private land in the counties through a process that was completed in the spring of 2021. Multiple letters were sent to the landowners of properties that were added in this process to notify them of the change. Due to an unavoidable delayed implementation with the Jackson County Assessor’s Office, landowners who were new additions to the classification will be added this year.
Classification changes do not increase ODF’s fire budget, rather, the classification review helps ensure that protection costs are fairly distributed. Those costs are then matched by the state’s general fund. In most cases, a review typically results in some lands being removed from forest classification and others being added. In the Southwest Oregon District, many of the new additions were already receiving fire suppression services but had not been paying for it.
During the assessment process, the committee examined all lands within Jackson and Josephine counties, classifying them either as “forestland” or “not forestland” according to:
– Fire risk potential
– Vegetation type (fire fuel)
– Community structure
– Proximity to other forestland
The committee’s efforts are helping to resolve issues pertaining to ODF’s fire suppression role on forestlands and adjacent properties and is the basis for assessing lands for the costs of wildland fire protection.
Landowners with questions about the assessment, regulations or general information can call the Medford Unit office at (541) 664-3328.