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Letter to the publisher

Letter to the publisher

I want to thank the Mt.Times for their recent coverage about Timberline Rim’s FireWise program. A small group of people can make a difference in our community’s ability to be wildfire ready and it was great to see our efforts recognized.
However, I need to make a major clarification about organizations. FireWise USA is a non-profit organization and is not affiliated with the Mt. Hood Corridor Wildlife Partnership, which is a group of agency, local and non-profit people. Hoodland Fire District (HFD) #74’s Chief Scott Kline made a presentation to the Wildfire Partnership and our HOA meetings and that’s what inspired me to finally pay attention and restart efforts to be FireWise in Tim Rim.
This distinction is very important, as I found out at the Wildfire Partnership’s recent Homeowner’s Workshop in Welches. Local residents are under the false impression that FireWise is the same thing as the Wildfire Partnership and it is all a plot for the government to gather information about their properties! These are two separate organizations with two different missions, neither of which are gathering data on local properties.
The confusion began when the state put out a map a few years ago that identified all of our homes as being in a high risk wildfire area. They quickly rescinded that map, but the damage had been done. The distinction here is important because no personal data is collected by our FireWise committee and submitted to any government entity or the insurance companies, ever.
FireWise USA does want data, as in the number of homes participating nor their specific locations.They want to know how many hours we collectively spent making our homes more fire resilient.
FireWise USA is a voluntary program and no one will tell you to do anything about your property. Your insurance company may tell you to replace that wood shingle roof, but a wildfire risk assessment done by AntFarm or HFD #74 might make that as a suggestion, but it is only reported back to you, the property owner.
To be clear, it is the insurance industry that is creating homeowner coverage problems based on data they collect using technology like drones and google maps. We heard of a homeowner who was denied coverage because of incorrect data on the closest fire station. Turns out they didn’t know about HFD #74 and Chief Kline wrote a letter to clear up the problem.
FireWise provides us the ability to write a grant to clean gutters and roofs before fire season. We were able to work with AntFarm this year to pick up sticks and branches curbside. We are also looking at getting a dumpster once a year, because vegetation is not the only problematic combustible. We are concerned about preserving the wetlands around us while creating a fire break. What we do depends on what we want to do, voluntarily.
If a group of homeowner’s is interested in FireWise, start by looking at firewiseusa.org. The only government officials involved are HFD #74 and the State Fire Marshals. They walk the property with us, NOT to report our homes but rather to develop a five-year plan for our community as a whole, based on what we tell them about our goals and concerns.
The other folks in the photo were just observing the walk-through process and were invited by me. They will not be showing up at your walk-through.
FireWise USA is a voluntary program that can provide resources for residents who want to do the right thing but need some help. It’s also a great excuse for us to get together as a community, to talk to each other, and to work to build a safer place to live.
Our FireWise committee looks forward to hosting workshops on native fire resilient plants and host tours of FireWise homes. We cannot do anything about the neglected lots because it is that property owner’s decision to do something or not. We are focused on what we can do for ourselves on our own properties and common spaces.
Lastly, you will not be asked to cut down all of the trees around your home in a 10’ radius. What you do is up to you and removing all the trees on your property will not be recommended, ever.
Tim Rim’s FireWise committee looks forward to helping other communities become FireWise. Chief Kline is willing to talk to any groups of people as HFD #74 is contacted for the walk-through and writing the five-year plan. Chief Kline will also assist us in writing our FireWise grants.
Again, thank you for your coverage about this important resource. We’re excited about the work ahead of us.

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