5k Jackson Co. landowners will now start paying ODF for fire protection

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. —The Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District is wrapping up its Forest Classification project. That means some Jackson County landowners could see changes to their property taxes.

ODF says this process hasn’t been done by the district since the 1960s. Through the classification process, it found out a lot of people were receiving fire protection services free of charge.

Since 2017, a committee has gone through Jackson and Josephine counties to determine which land is considered timber or grazing fuel types.  A piece of property gets a forestland title depending on its fire risk level, vegetation type, community structure, and distance from other forestlands.

People who live on those properties pay a tax for fire protection from ODF. It says it sent out 5,000 letters to people who will begin paying for the forest patrol assessment in Jackson County.

“Sending notifications to the people who are going to be paying a forest patrol assessment for the first time so these people have been receiving our wildfire protection at no cost to them, there’s not gonna be any retroactive payment however going forward they will be paying for that protection,” said Natalie Weber with ODF SW Dist.

Weber says this process aims to do is make it more equitable for everyone. She says most people pay around $60 a year for wildfire protection.

ODF says this is not related to the wildfire risk map, that upset many in southern Oregon late last year.

Landowners with questions about the assessment, regulations, or general information can call the Medford Unit office at (541) 664-3328. Additional information can be found here.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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