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Wildfire survey results exceed expectations
August 12, 2011
Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Cooperative
Contacts: Sandy Shaffer, RVFPC survey coordinator, (541) 899-9541
               Eva Skuratowicz, Director, SOU Research Center, (541) 552-62
Thanks to Jackson/Josephine County Title III funding, the Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Cooperative (RVFPC) was able to conduct a public opinion survey on wildfire this spring in the Applegate Valley, the Seven Basins area, the Greensprings and Ashland’s Wildfire Hazard Zone.  This was a mail-in survey, and the RVFPC partnered with the Southern Oregon University’s (SOU) Research Center to implement the survey and help us analyze the results.
We would like to thank everyone who filled out and returned our survey, because we had record-breaking return rates, ranging from 32% to 59% across the four communities! 
Such a strong response by wildland-urban interface residents in these communities tells us a couple of things – that wildfire is something that people in the Rogue Basin know and care about, and that our past decade of outreach and education about wildfire has been successful.  Because we reached such a large percentage of residents, our data is more reliable for planning future outreach and education efforts.
So, what exactly did we ask in the survey, and what did we find out?  To begin, the majority of folks responding to the survey have lived in Southern Oregon for over 20 years.  Do they personally think their homes are at risk from wildfire?  Responses across the four communities that we surveyed ranged from 51-74% in the affirmative. However, only 1-12% of respondents in these four communities had ever been evacuated due to a wildfire.
Of note was that 92-98% of the respondents agreed that private landowners have a responsibility to reduce fire hazards on their own land.  But, have they done so?  Overwhelmingly, YES!  More than 93% of respondents said they have completed defensible space around their homes, and over 88% of those responding said they are also maintaining their defensible space!  This is making our local fire agencies very happy.  And because we also addressed other social and environmental issues in this 5-page survey, land managers and county planners are also reviewing our results.
The complete report of the survey results, along with copies of the surveys that were mailed out, is posted on the Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Cooperative’s web page at www.rvfpc.com.
Brian Ballou
Fire Prevention Specialist
Oregon Department of Forestry
Southwest Oregon District
Office: (541) 665-0662