Fire risk maps will have the biggest influence over which areas will see the strictest fire-safe building codes for new construction, said Sen. Jeff Golden, who is leading the effort to pass a bill that seeks to map out the state’s most fire-prone areas and include fire hardening measures for homes. There will also be requirements for clearing out flammable material around homes.
A key sticking point will come down to defining the so-called wildland-urban interface, where residential areas meet forests and rangelands. It's the fastest-growing land use type and that, along with the warmer climate, is raising wildfire risk for communities across the country.
"We are looking for a balance between letting people do exactly what they want on their private property and responding to this existential threat," Golden said
During the legislative session, critics from real estate, construction and agricultural industries again sounded alarms. They worried broad restrictions would increase costs for property owners, home builders and farmers and infringe on private property rights.
"If Senator Golden thinks for a minute I'm going to cut down the 200-year-old, 200-foot-tall, old growth ponderosa pine in my yard he is mistaken," Oregon Sen. Betsy Johnson said on a radio show. "I'm just not sure I want unseen, unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats dictating the future of the state of Oregon and how we all are going to live on our own property."