May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Federal, state, and local fire agencies and organizations, along with Keep Oregon Green, know the month is a great time to encourage the public to create defensible space around homes this spring and prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires.
When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many benefits provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands. During the 2019 season, 250,000 acres in the Northwest were consumed by wildfire, with almost 80,000 acres burned in Oregon.
People were responsible for starting 1,192 fires that burned around 22,000 acres. The Oregon Department of Forestry’s gross large-fire costs were more than $100 million, and many neighborhoods were forced to evacuate. According to the ODF, each year, more than two-thirds of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped debris burning and campfires left unattended.
Before heading outdoors, contact the agency or landowner who manages the lands at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should review these restrictions before building campfires, burning debris, or using equipment that could ignite dry vegetation.