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In response to the risk posed by wildfires in Malheur County, the County is developing a county-wide Community Wildfire Protection Plan that will address wildfire risk to communities across the county. 
A series of public meetings will take place from February 19 through February 21, 2008, to review fire risk and hazard associated with communities, identify community priorities for wildfire protection, and discuss emergency services relevant to wildfires. 
Representatives from Oregon Department of Forestry, Malheur County, and the Bureau of Land Management will provide information and lead the discussions.  Other agencies and fire departments that are participating in the planning effort will also be available for questions. 
Citizens are encouraged to pick a date and location that fits their schedule (times are MT).  The material presented will be the same at all meetings.  The schedule for meetings is as follows:
Feb. 19, 2008  Tuesday, Malheur ESD-Vale, Ore.  7 to 8:30 p.m. MT
Feb. 21, 2008  Thursday, Lions Hall - Jordan Valley, Ore. 7 to 8:30 p.m. MT
Malheur County's fire planning effort is part of a broader national initiative launched by the White House and the Western Governor's Association.  A report assessing the impacts of those wildfires highlighted the need for investment to reduce fire risk, and the importance of expanding local collaboration in the planning and implementation of such projects. 
Subsequent directions from Congress stated that Secretaries must work with Governors on long-term strategies that addressed wildfire risk and mitigation.  The guiding principle is to have states and local governments as full partners with federal agencies in making decisions that relate to the goals of wildfire risk reduction. 
National goals influencing the work plans of both the USFS and BLM are to improve fire prevention and suppression, reduce hazardous fuels, restore fire-adapted ecosystems, and promote community assistance.  Grant opportunities exist for community projects where community wildfire protection plans have been developed through a collaborative process. 
In addition, this plan becomes part of the Malheur County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.   Visit the website at http://www.odf.state.or.us/areas/eastern/northeast/default.asp
Any questions about this process may be directed to:
Angie Johnson, Oregon Department of Forestry, 541-963-3168
Terry Mairs, City of Ontario Fire Chief and Malheur County Fire Defense Board Chief, 541- 881-3230