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Committee to classify Polk County forestland for fire protection
For immediate release
Local media distribution
January 5, 2009
Contact: Jeff Classen, 503-623-8146, or
Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425
 
 
A five-member committee has taken on the complex task of classifying forestland in Polk County for the purpose of wildfire protection assessment. The panel began meeting in spring 2008 with a goal to review and classify forestland in Polk County that lies within the West Oregon District’s forest protection boundary.
 
A statewide forestland classification panel met throughout 2007 to review the existing system of categorizing lands within the state forest protection districts for wildfire protection. Goals of the statewide review were to update the classification system to reflect current conditions and identify ways to improve the efficiency and consistency of its administration. The system was developed in the 1950s, and population growth and other land-use changes have significantly altered the face of the land over the past five decades.
 
The statewide review led to a forestland classification review of all lands that are within the Oregon Department of Forestry’s West Oregon District protection boundary, which includes lands in Polk, Lincoln and Benton Counties.
The Polk County committee membership includes:
  • Chair: Terry Lamers, Polk County forestland owner
  • Co-chair: Don Duhrkopf, Polk County forestland owner
  • Secretary: Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Extension agent for Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties
  • Tom Parsons, Polk County forestland owner
  • Jeff Classen, head of Oregon Department of Forestry’s Dallas Unit
 
As required by law, the three landowner members were appointed by the Polk County Board of Commissioners. The Extension Service appointed Withrow-Robinson, and State Forester Marvin Brown appointed Classen.
 
In its first few meetings, the committee laid essential groundwork. "We sat down and developed bylaws concerning how the committee will conduct business," Classen said. "We're now in the process of developing and finalizing our decision criteria – basically, what meets the definition of forestland."
 
The Committee has toured forested sites while developing the criteria. Aerial photographs will be used by the Committee as they deliberate to classify forestland within the West Oregon District in Polk County.
 
The goal set before the committee is to finish its task by spring 2009 and provide the information to the Polk County Assessor. The Department of Forestry will then work with the Assessor’s Office to implement the updated system.
 
There is now a Forestland Classification Committee page on the Polk County Website. Information about the classification process, dates of upcoming committee meetings, meeting minutes will be posted at www.co.polk.or.us/Assessor/FCC.asp. Meeting dates will also be posted at the Oregon Department of Forestry office in Dallas, where most meetings will be held - 825 Oak Villa Road, Dallas, Oregon 97338, phone: 503-623-8146. Meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for January 15, beginning at 9 a.m.
 
Looking ahead to the work before the forestland classification committee, Classen said the chief goal is to "consistently classify all forestland in Polk County that is within the West Oregon District’s forest protection boundary."
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