Our friends at Communities for Healthy Forests, Inc. have released the results from a recently conducted statewide poll conducted by the Portland based independent, nonpartisan opinion research firm DHM Research. The goal of the survey was to assess Oregonians’ opinions about how to manage federal forests in Oregon to prevent severe wildfires and what to do with those forest after they do burn.
The survey was conducted from May 28 to June 3, 2020, reaching 605 registered voters of diverse age, gender, and political affiliation from across all regions of the state to ensure a representative sample was attained. The survey has a ±4.0% margin of error.
Oregonians were found to be overwhelmingly in favor of active management of federal forests after severe wildfires including removing dead trees and wood and replanting.
They also strongly support actively managing forests to reduce tree densities by thinning and using prescribed burning when conditions are appropriate to reduce fuels.
Michael Rondeau CEO of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians offered, “The Tribe echoes the sentiment of most Oregonians expressed in this survey, that we must do whatever we can to protect our forests from dangerous unplanned wildfires. We agree that when our forests are destroyed by catastrophic fire they must not be forgotten, but instead, restored and managed.”
Speaking for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Board Chair Commissioner Colleen Roberts added, “Wildfire in Southern Oregon has had a devastating impact on our economy, wildlife habitat, access for recreation, and our air quality. This statewide survey sponsored by Communities for Healthy Forests found that Oregonians strongly support more management to increase fire resiliency, and a quicker response to extinguish small fires before they grow out of control. We agree and support these commonsense approaches to help reduce the size and impact of wildfires on our federal forest lands.”
89% of the Oregonians believe the incidence of fires on Federal forests has increased with 87% believe the size of these fires has increased. 70% believe that most of the Federal forests in Oregon are at high risk of severe fire.
Oregonians expressed concern about the health impacts of smoke from severe forest fires. While 81% indicated they are concerned about smoke impacts to the average person, 94% believe that those in poor health should be concerned.
When asked about how Federal land managers should respond to fire starts, 93% indicated they should respond to wildfires faster, to put out small fires before
they grow out of control.
83% support actively managing the forests by selectively logging trees to widen spacing, clearing the underbrush. 88% of respondents support using prescribed burns when forest and weather conditions are appropriate.
And regardless of party or region, most support modifying current rules and regulations to reduce the time required to complete restoration projects.
Oregonians also overwhelmingly support Federal reporting requirements to increase transparency about the financial impacts of severe fires on Federal lands, not only to report on the amount spent on putting out a fire but also to report on the value of the timber lost due to the fire and the potential revenue lost to local government and schools due to the damaged timber.