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Nino Paoli/The Observer

Morgan Lake community hosts Firewise risk assessment

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By Nino Paoli

Published on 7/18/23

LA GRANDE — The first ever Firewise community assessment in Union County took place at Morgan Lake, where agency personnel, community members and property owners discussed possible wildfire evacuation routes and future plans to reduce fire risk in the area on Friday, July 14.

During the risk assessment, about 15 people from 12 Morgan Lake households joined fire experts and community leaders on a tour with three pit stops — the western stretch of Morgan Lake Road, the end of Wood Road and where Glass Hill Road meets Glass Hill Natural Area — and discussed various areas of concern as well as potential emergency egress routes, laying the foundation for a written community action plan.

“We’re just trying to get them moving forward to become a Firewise community,” Oregon Department of Forestry Stewardship Forester Abby McBeth said.

The Morgan Lake community looks to become the newest addition to an ever growing network of Firewise communities in Northeastern Oregon. The assessment comes just a month after Lostine Canyon Firewise Community — a program veteran celebrating its fourth year as a member, and being the first in the NE region — hosted a discussion with the newly inducted Firewise communities of South Wallowa Lake, Mount Joseph/Old Ski Run Road and Hurricane Creek.

Firewise USA builds a framework to help residents get organized, find direction and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

McBeth said the first step toward Morgan Lake residents becoming a Firewise community was the Morgan Lake Defensible Space Project, which included clearing brush, fuels reduction and cleaning up other fire hazards. Now, the community is ready to move forward with the process.

Alyssa Cudmore, the interim Union County Firewise community coordinator, prefaced the tour by stating that she was on the lookout for vulnerabilities as well as effective measures community members and agency personnel have already carried out within the area.

Read the full article on The Observer's website here.

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