Collaborations that Count
In the May 2017 issue, we highlight two external collaborations:
As part of the effort to support neighborhoods in the county that achieved the Firewise Communities Recognition, Benton County and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) partner to offer a chipping program. Spring 2017 marks the 4th year of the partnership.
Led by the National Fire Protection Association, the Firewise Community USA Recognition Program was created in 2002 to engage neighborhoods in preparing and protecting their homes against the threat of wildfire.
Benton County has seven recognized Firewise Communities: Pioneer Village, 2011; Vineyard Mountain, 2011; Ridgewood Estates, 2012; Chinook, 2014; Oakwood Heights, 2015; Skyline West, 2016; Wren (in progress, 2016).
Residents of Firewise Communities clear out flammable vegetation from their properties and bring it to a location in that community. On a pre-determined day, a chipper and crew to go to that community and chip the vegetation. Depending on a community’s preference, the chip is either hauled off or left to be available for use in gardens or other areas of the properties.
It has been a very popular event for the last several years, and the communities have begun to anticipate the annual event and actively prepare for fire season.
Accomplishing proactive fuels reduction in wildland-urban interface communities and building relationships with residents is a high priority for ODF and Benton County. The program has the added benefit of addressing several action items and goals in the Benton County Community Wildlife Protection Program, updated in 2016.
In anticipation of making repairs to the historic Hayden Bridge, the Benton County Public Works department met with Weyerhaeuser to request collaborative assistance. Weyerhaeuser is an international forest products company that owns a logging road that could provide a reasonable detour around the Hayden Bridge on Hayden Road, 1.8 miles East of Alsea, to access neighborhoods in that area.
The Roads Division in Public Works received permission from Weyerhaeuser to use their logging road. The logging road needed improvements for usage by cars and non-industrial motor vehicles. The Roads Division performed grading and rocking to improve the quality of the logging road, and brought it up to industry standards.
Following this work, Republic Services, United States Postal Service and residents and property owners were able to use Weyerhaeuser’s road as a detour from Sept. 2016 to March 2017 while the Hayden Bridge was restricted to a 3-ton weight limit.
Repairs to preserve and strengthen the historic bridge were completed in Feb. 2017. The Benton County Board of Commissioners raised the weight limit on the Hayden Covered Bridge to 12-tons at the Mar. 7, 2017 board meeting and re-opened the bridge to residents and property owners, school buses, emergency vehicles, Republic Services and the United States Postal Service.