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Friday, February 17, 2017

Forestland Classification Finalized in Crook County

Oregon Department of Forestry—Central Oregon District
Contact:  Gordon Foster, Prineville Unit Forester (541)447-5658
February 17, 2017
Prineville, Ore.—On February 6, 2016 the Crook County Forestland Classification Committee voted unanimously to accept the preliminary classification as final.  This preliminary classification included suggested edits from landowner review at public meetings in January and on-site visits with committee members.  All suggested edits to the draft classification were reviewed by the committee prior to adopting the preliminary data as final. 

The final classification was filed with the Crook County Clerk, Cheryl Seely on February 17, 2017.  This filing initiates the thirty day appeal period for the classification.  As per ORS 526.332 any landowner who is aggrieved by the classification may appeal to the Crook County Circuit Court.  By definition “forestland” is 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 (ORS 526.005 (6)(a)).  ORS 526.324 further classifies “forestland” in eastern Oregon into Class 2 (timber and grazing class) and Class 3 (grazing and agricultural use).  The Crook County Forestland Classification Committee has met regularly over the past four years to review and refine the criteria used to update the Forestland Classification in the county.
The committee consists of Tim Deboodt—Chairman (Oregon State University Extension Representative), Kristin Dodd—Secretary (Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Representative), Chuck McGrath (County Grazing Representative), Casey Kump (Oregon State Fire Marshall Representative), John Morgan (County Timber Representative), and Ken Fahlgren (County At-Large Member).  The committee has focused on equity and fairness for all landowners within the county as part of the complete and coordinated fire protection system.  Oregon statute require lands within the county be periodically reviewed for accuracy and changes to the vegetation.  The current classification of lands within Crook county updates classification that was previously conducted in the mid-1970’s

Current revisions to the classification includes all lands in Crook County within ODF’s Central Oregon Protection District Boundary and improved accuracy of the classification due to better technology and newer data. 
Beginning July 1, 2017 all Class 2 and Class 3 forestland in Crook County will be included in ODF’s Forest Patrol and will have wildland fire protection provided by ODF’s Central Oregon District.  ODF is part of the complete and coordinated fire protection system which includes local, rural, county, state, and federal resources.  Landowners who receive this service will see a Forest Patrol Assessment on their Crook County Tax Statement later this fall.  The per acre assessment rate is based on a level of service determined by ODF with approval and oversight from Eastern Oregon Forest Protective Association and a District Budget Committee made up of local landowners from each of the counties in the District.  The rate is determined each spring after the budgeting process.  The 2016 rate was $2.1373 per acre for Class 2 (timber) forestland and $.7897 per acre for Class 3 (grazing and agricultural use) forestland.  There is a minimum assessment of $18.75 per taxlot with classified forestland.

Specific classification acres by taxlot can be viewed at the Crook County Clerk’s Office or by contacting Gordon Foster, Prineville Unit Forester, at the Prineville ODF Office.  The office is located at 3501 E Third Street in Prineville.  Additional questions or requests for information should be directed to Gordon Foster, (541)447-5658.