For more than a decade, Central Oregon LandWatch has been concerned about the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the forested area next to the west side of Bend. Most of this land would have been developed at urban levels had it come in with the City of Bend’s 2009 Urban Growth Boundary proposal to expand the city by more than 8,400 acres. Instead, our advocacy helped reduce the approved expansion by 70% by increasing densities inside the existing city boundaries.
Thanks in large part to our advocacy, the Westside Transect is a new concept for Central Oregon that is being used to plan development on Bend’s western edge where we are at most risk of wildfire sweeping into town from the Cascade Mountain forests.
As development pressures grow in high-risk areas, we must consider every new development in the WUI carefully. Smart planning that takes wildfire risk into account will help avoid unnecessary loss of life and homes, risk to our health, and endangerment of firefighters.
Last night, LandWatch advocated for wildlife habitat and protection from wildfire risk adjacent to Shevlin Park by supporting an application for a new zone in Deschutes County. The proposal to create a Westside Transect zone will extend to the county the 2016 UGB concept of tapering density as the city boundary nears the forest where there is higher risk of wildfire.