Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Forestland Classification

Forestland Classification is a process by which a committee studies all lands within the fire protection district boundary to determine which lands are "forestland". Once lands have been determined to meet the definition of forestland (ORS 526.005(5)(a)), they are further classified as lands primarily suitable for timber production, grazing use, or a combination of the two. Timberland (Class 1 & 2) is defined as all forestland primarily suitable for joint use of timber production and the grazing of livestock. Grazing lands (Class 3) are defined as all forestland that is primarily suitable for grazing or other agricultural uses. Grazing lands may contain undeveloped grasslands if such grasslands are in close proximity and intermingled with timberland. Developed areas and agricultural lands are exempt from classification.

Once the timberland areas are classified, intermingled and adjacent grazing lands are also classified. The purpose of this approach is to allow firefighters a reasonable chance to suppress fires at small sizes regardless of where they originate and to create logical control points.

("Forestland" is defined as any woodland, brushland, timberland, grazing land or clearing that, during any time of the year, contains enough forest growth, slashing or vegetation to constitute, in the judgement of the forester, a fire hazard, regardless of how the land is zoned or taxed.)

 The Forestland Classification process is done to improve the accuracy and equity of the Forest Patrol Assessment to ensure the appropriate acres are being assessed at the appropriate rate for protection from wildland fire. For some landowners this process will create a change for several reasons. The differences in the accuracy of the mapping technology in the 1960's (the last time forestland classification was completed in the Central Oregon District) compared to today is enough to create small changes even if the timber and grazing lands are exactly as they were in the 1960's. Other reasons include land use changes since the last classification designation, areas that may have been assigned the wrong classification and potential data entry errors.