Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, April 23 2013 at 5:15 PM, Updated: Tue, April 23 2013 at 5:25 PM
Many people living on the very edge of Klamath Falls want to know why they're paying more than their neighbors for fire protection...
Medora Wiltrout first thought it was a mistake when the Oregon Department of Forestry declared her property at the edge of Hogback Mountain as 'forest land'...
"It never has looked like forest land, or grazing land to me. I haven't cut down one single tree to sell for lumber."
She's now paying an additional $67 a year for wildland fire protection...in addition to coverage from Klamath County Fire District #1.
"I feel like I'm already paying for fire protection." Notes Wiltrout. "And I don't want redundant coverage."
Maps unveiled earlier this year by the Oregon Department of Forestry are the reason.
Greg Pittman of the Oregon Department of Forestry explains that those maps identified wildland interface properties that may require additional fire protection...
"What they get from the fire district is structure protection, and what they get from us is the wildland protection."
Pittmans adds that the O.D.F. is now meeting one on one with some of those property owners...
"We're going to develop a course of action, which could involve reconvening the committee, to address some of these areas specifically, and see if it may make sense to move the line one way or the other."
That line has a $67 dollar impact on Medora's property taxes...
"I will pay it if I don't have any choice." States Medora Wiltrout. "But I don't understand why I would have to pay for two different unites providing fire protection."
And some see that as double-taxation.
The forestland classification studies are not focused solely on Klamath County.
The Oregon Department of Forestry is conducting similar reviews and updates in all Oregon counties.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.