It honestly felt like we were just starting to get into the groove of 2017 and now it’s time to jump forward into 2018. Before we tackle 2018 head-on, Project Wildfire would like to take this time to reflect on all the successes from 2017 throughout Deschutes County. Below you’ll find a few of the highlights from the past year.  A big thank you goes out to all of our partners for their continued commitment to making all of our work a reality.

                              Community Wildfire Protection

Project Wildfire in cooperation with Deschutes County is working on fuels reduction projects summarized in three separate grant proposals. Through these funding opportunities, Project Wildfire implemented 13 projects within multiple areas in Deschutes County treating a total of 485 acres. One of these projects occurred in a Firewise Community in La Pine that yielded the largest project they’ve implemented since gaining their Firewise Recognition in 2013. Work and planning are still ongoing on an additional four projects on 227 acres that will be complete by 2018’s fire season. In the planning arena, Project Wildfire coordinated the update and revision of the Redmond CWPP and with the assistance of the local community developed an outreach magazine as an educational tool for their CWPP.


This year FireFree reached our 20th-year milestone. The sustained success and participation of residents and partners are inspirational. We saw a continuation of the events in Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, and Klamath Counties again this year. After the spring events in all four counties were complete residents had delivered a total of 31,383 cubic yards. And in the fall residents brought in 14,857 cubic yards trying to get a jump on fire season in 2018. FireFree events in 2017 resulted in a total of 46,420 cubic yards collected. In addition to the dedicated residents that participated in FireFree, Project Wildfire would like to thank our partners at Deschutes Recycling and Deschutes County Solid Waste for making these events a success.

Wildfires and Lessons Learned

The fire season in Central Oregon gave us a run for our money this year. There were multiple teachable moments and success stories borne out of this fire season. The Milli Fire provided an illustration of how well placed fuel treatment can make the difference in the success of our local resources. It provided a clear argument for how forest restoration and prescribed burning in strategic locations can reduce fire behavior and contribute to the ability of a safe and effective response, which ultimately reduced the threat to surrounding neighborhoods.

The solar eclipse also made an appearance in Central Oregon skies, offering an added layer of complexity. The eclipse provided a unique opportunity for local resources and emergency management to preplan for the impacts of extra visitors to Central Oregon. Project Wildfire was offered the opportunity to participate in the Joint Information Center, which was coordinating information for the eclipse, fire evacuations, fire prevention, and general event information. The Joint Information Center experience produced new partnerships and relationships as well as new recognition of our educational program by community members.

Education, Outreach, and Learning

Project Wildfire participated in many educational opportunities in 2017. Project Wildfire was present at the Home and Garden Show, Wildland Urban Interface Conference in Reno, and Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network Workshop in Nevada. Many presentations were given to communities throughout the County on FireFree and Firewise principles. With the help of Oregon Department of Forestry, Project Wildfire hosted multiple small Senate Bill 360 trainings for Firewise Committees. With the help of local Fire Districts and the Oregon Department of Forestry, we have added three new Firewise Communities in Deschutes County. The total count in Deschutes County is now at 23.

After three productive years participating in the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, the partnership continues to provide an excellent learning opportunity for Project Wildfire and its partners to push the envelope locally. This year we began the long road to Long-Term Recovery Planning with local partners. In partnership with Central Washington, Southern Oregon, and the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network we planned and implemented a kick-off workshop in Hood River for key figures in Long-Term Recovery. We walked away with a better idea of where to start and the partners we need in the room for that discussion. We will continue our discussion in early 2018.

Also the help of the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, Project Wildfire, and our partners designed and created a 6-part video series focused exclusively on evacuation preparedness. These videos were released over a 6-week digital campaign prior to fire season. Coined as “Make A Plan Monday” our videos featured partners from the Humane Society, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, and the Red Cross. Our topics included basic evacuation tips, pet evacuation preparedness, kid preparedness ideas, evacuation kit building, and business preparedness. The entire campaign reached over 50,000 local residents and we were able to use these videos during the Milli Fire evacuation.

The Year Ahead

Project Wildfire is looking forward to 2018 and the new projects and partnerships the New Year promises. We are hoping to accomplish fuel treatment in neighborhoods identified in Southern Deschutes County and Sisters. The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network continues to pay dividends by allowing us to bring best practices home from a network that is tackling the same topics. Project Wildfire’s business model is now being applied to other areas throughout the Pacific Northwest, we couldn’t be happier to be on the forefront of tackling the wildland fire issues that concern us all. Project Wildfire is able to highlight the great things happening here in Deschutes County thanks to all our partners.  See you all next year!