Signed into Law by Gov Brown on 07/19/2021
Status (overview) of bill: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/SB762
This bill directs Public Utility Commission to convene workshops to help public utilities adopt best practices regarding risk-based wildfire protection and mitigation standards. Directs certain agencies to develop specific programs. Establishes Oregon Wildfire Workforce Corps Program managed by Oregon Wildfire Workforce Advisory Committee appointed by Governor and awards grants preference to communities of color, indigenous communities, communities with limited proficiency in English and communities with lower-income members. Establishes Wildfire Programs Advisory Council to advise and assist the State Wildfire Programs Director serving at the pleasure of the Governor monitoring this Act and ensuring equity of financial impacts. Requires council to annually report to Governor and Legislative Assembly.
Personal Choice and Responsibility
Oregon Wildfire Workforce Corps Program is established to reduce the risk wildfire poses to communities and critical infrastructure, help to create fire-adapted communities, and engage youth between 13 and 26 in workforce training by youth development organizations.
Efficiency is lacking with top heavy management with separate funding for many new programs. Appropriation of $150 million for the full Act, and a $10 million General Fund cap for matching private donations to the Oregon Wildfire Workforce Corps Program for community protection projects located in the wildland-urban interface. Establishes Oregon Wildfire Workforce Corps Fund in State Treasury. Establishes the Community Risk Reduction Fund and continuously appropriated to the State Fire Marshal for carrying out community risk reduction and the local government financial assistance in establishing defensible spaces. Requires the Oregon Health Authority establish and implement a clean air shelter grant program s to provide access to clean air shelters at no charge. Establishes a small woodland grant program for providing grants on a competitive basis, to support small woodland owners in reducing wildfire risk through the restoration of landscape resiliency and the reduction of hazardous fuels on the owners’ small woodlands.
We need local programs that fit the area and less Governor controlled management. Requires State Board of Forestry develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide map of wildfire risk and establish minimum defensible space that local government may enforce. Requires public utility that provides electricity to have wildfire protection plan. Requires consumer-owned utility to have wildfire mitigation plan. Directs State Fire Marshal to establish defensible space requirements, administer community risk reduction program. Directs Department of Land Conservation and Development to identify certain land use updates. Directs Department of Consumer and Business Services to adopt wildfire hazard mitigation building code standards. Directs Department of Environmental Quality to undertake programs concerning impacts of wildfire smoke, readiness and mitigation capacity for smoke and ambient air quality. Directs Oregon Health Authority to establish programs related to clean air shelter grants and smoke filtration systems. Directs Department of Human Services to take certain actions concerning clean air shelter operations. Directs Office of Emergency Management to update statewide emergency plan to prepare for or respond to wildfire emergencies. Directs State Forestry Department to implement program to reduce wildfire risk. Makes certain changes concerning wildland-urban interface. Directs Governor to appoint State Wildfire Programs Director.
Local government may adopt and enforce local requirements for defensible space on lands that are greater than the minimum defensible space requirements established by the State Fire Marshal. A local government shall expend financial assistance provided by the State Fire Marshal to give priority to the creation of defensible space on lands owned by members of socially and economically vulnerable communities, persons with limited proficiency in English and persons of lower income, schools, hospitals and senior facilities, or for critical or emergency infrastructure.
Adopt rules to conduct a prescribed fire that burns across land ownership boundaries if the person obtains a permit for the fire. Establishes baseline levels of wildfire protection for lands that are outside of forest protection districts and susceptible to wildfire that reflects regional conditions.
This, from Sen. Dembrow’s 6-24-21 news email: “the big wildfire prevention bill, was scheduled for a floor vote. It had become controversial and seemed slated for a bitter floor fight and a partisan split, and perhaps even failure. I know this may seem pretty arcane to most of you, but there was disagreement over whether or not the “Wildland/Urban Interface” (aka the WUI) should be defined in statute, using a definition from international scientific literature, or left up to the Board of Forestry to be defined through its rulemaking. Republicans, responding to advocacy from the Farm Bureau and some other lobbyists, wanted the latter and environmentalists preferred the former. Hopes of bipartisan support for this important bill evaporated, and the ability of even securing a majority was in doubt. In the end, though, a solution was found. A special committee was formed to approve an amendment (the -17) that was satisfactory to all parties. It will come back tomorrow (6-25) for a vote and will almost certainly receive broad support. Whew!”
Bipartisan means they got the “establishment” Republican Hansell to cave. All the conservatives and level headed Senators still oppose the bill.