Deschutes County addresses wildfire risk with zoning changes

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Deschutes County has approved new zoning intended to reduce the chance that a major wildfire will hit Bend.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported on Thursday that the county will require new construction on Bend’s west side to be low density and fire-resistant.

The idea is that this new zoning area will provide a long buffer between the pine forests and one of Oregon’s fastest growing cities.

The zoning will mean 10 times fewer homes in the area than the previous code permitted.

Paul Dewey, executive director of Central Oregon LandWatch, says because of the winds, wildfire will hit those neighborhoods first and having fire-resistant zoning is critical.

The nonprofit advocacy group has been working with the county and private landowners for years to get the idea approved.