Mt. Hood National Forest a National Priority Landscape
November 1, 2023
By Amber Ford
As fire season comes to a close and residents breathe a sigh of relief at another safe exit from summer, the Mt. Hood National Forest service is already preparing for next fire season with the help of government aid via funding and additional personnel. Selected by the federal government as a “National Priority Landscape,” the Mt. Hood National Forest was selected as one of eleven landscapes for investment in fire prevention and safety.
According to Mt. Hood National Forest public affairs officer Heather Ibsen, being selected for this program will not only help reduce the potential for a major wildfire in the Mt. Hood Villages area, but will also provide much needed funding in order to implement many of their fire prevention strategies. “The Mt. Hood National Forest was selected as part of this program because of its proximity to communities,” Ibsen said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture initially allocated a one year investment of $4.5 million to “improve forest health and resiliency and decrease wildfire risk to communities within designated landscapes, along with funding for associated initiatives at the regional level.”
With increased concern for the Mt. Hood National Forest after the Riverside fire in 2020, many different federal agencies, businesses and local residents have formed the Mt. Hood Corridor Wildfire Partnership. The Mt. Hood Corridor Wildfire Partnership consists of many key agencies and businesses, including Hoodland Fire District, Clackamas Fire District, Clackamas County Sheriff, Office of State Fire Marshal, Mt. Hood National Forest Service, Portland Water Bureau, Portland General Electric, Timberline Rim H.O.A., Mt. Hood Skibowl and Timberline Lodge. The stated purpose of this coalition is to “foster long-term community cohesion through sustainable and resilient wildfire risk adaptation in the Mt. Hood Corridor areas. This will be accomplished through collaborative education, outreach, prevention, planning, and mitigation efforts.”
The Mt. Hood Corridor Wildfire Partnership continues to discuss ways to keep community members educated on fire prevention and to decrease wildfire fuels come dry season. The designation of “National Priority Landscape” will also allow the forest service to hire specific personnel who specialize in areas that will benefit fire prevention. “Being selected as a national priority landscape has given the forest service the ability to hire extra personnel who will help us not only plan, but also provide the groundwork necessary to protect our communities,” Ibsen said. “We’ve been able to hire project managers who help us bring everything we have on paper to fruition and we’ve also been able to bring on a botanist and a silviculturist,” Ibsen added. Ibsen also said that many of these professionals will help survey fire risk areas which will help them better plan and help reduce risk.
For more information on wildfire prevention and the Mt. Hood Corridor Wildfire Partnership please visit www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mthood/landmanagement/resourcemanagement and https://sites.google.com/view/wildfire-partnership.