House passes Walden bill to protect Crooked River Ranch

July 11, 2018
Press Release

House passes Walden bill to protect Crooked River Ranch

Crooked River Ranch Fire Protection Act aims to reduce risk of wildfire for local community

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The House of Representatives today unanimously passed legislation introduced by Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) to protect Crooked River Ranch from wildfire. The Crooked River Ranch Fire Protection Act (H.R. 2075) makes necessary adjustments to the wilderness study areas adjacent to Crooked River Ranch to reduce the risk of wildfire for the local community.

“This bill is an important public safety measure. This is a life-and-death measure. There are more than 5,000 people who live in Crooked River Ranch," said Walden in a speech on the House floor today. "We have a serious and deadly threat staring us down every summer. We have fires already burning in the area. If you want to save lives and prevent deadly fires, this is the bill to do it, this is the time to do it. Let's get it done."

Crooked River Ranch is an unincorporated community of about 5,500 residents in Jefferson County. The lands adjacent to the community are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and are classified as a Wilderness Study Area (WSA).

These lands are in the highest risk category for exposure to devastating wildfire due to overstocked juniper stand under the federally mandated, and locally promulgated, Jefferson County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The current WSA classification prevents mechanical fire prevention activities within these overstocked juniper stands.

Walden’s bill would adjust the boundaries of the WSAs to allow much-needed management of the excess fire fuels that surround Crooked River Ranch, reducing the danger of wildfire for the community who lives there.

Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, applauded Walden’s bill, calling it a common-sense measure to help protect Crooked River Ranch.

“Once again Congress is showing it is serious about protecting communities from devastating wildfires. This bill cuts bureaucratic red-tape that limits the fire prevention tools available to land managers and firefighters.  This common-sense bill will help prevent the devastation of life and property by wildfire in the Crooked River Ranch community.  I’m thankful for Rep. Walden’s commitment to this issue and look forward to supporting this bill as it works its way through Congress,” said Chairman Bishop.

Representative Walden’s proposal also has broad support from fire officials and first responders in Jefferson County and throughout Oregon:

  • “This bill is long overdue and will be a welcome addition to all first responders responsible for protecting the life and property of Crooked River Ranch citizens. Additionally, it will allow local first responders and BLM managers to address the severe fire dangers that exist along the borders which abut private property.” -- Oregon Fire Chiefs Association
  • “This bill has the potential to save lives and property at Crooked River Ranch and I’m glad to see Congressman Walden continuing to move this plan forward. With the current wilderness study area (WSA) boundary, practical firefighting and fire prevention activities are unavailable. The lack of fuel mitigation around Crooked River Ranch, due to wilderness restrictions codified in law, has created a dangerous environment and continues to threaten the people that live here.” -- Harry Ward, Fire Chief of Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue
  • “As the elected Sheriff of Jefferson County, Oregon, this bill is extremely important to the life and property of an area under my protection. This bill will help mitigate wildfire from Crooked River Ranch by providing a defensible fire protection along the border of the Ranch which is presently contiguous with the WSAs.” -- Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins

The Crooked River Ranch Fire Protection Act now awaits action in the Senate. To read more about Representative Walden’s legislation, please click here.