One of the projects we are working on in tandem with the Wasco 2040 update is a mandatory update to the Wasco County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (NHMP). One of the prior tasks listed in the NHMP was for an update to the Comprehensive Plan. Similarly, in looking at our Environmental Protection Districts and Wildfire Protection Plans during the update process, we will look to the NHMP for data and strategies.
Here is some more information about the update from one of the project leaders, Will Smith:
Wasco County has begun the process of updating it’s Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. The last plan was completed in 2012, and the law requires updates every five years to remain eligible for several federal grants. This plan is a collaboration between many jurisdictions and partner agencies within the County. The Wasco County Planning Department and Wasco County Emergency Management are spear heading the update process.
Hazard mitigation reduces a community’s risk of loss to natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, landslides, earthquakes, severe storms, droughts, tornados, or volcanos. This plan lays out a variety of strategies for sustained action to mitigate these long-term risks to life and property in Wasco County. A properly implemented mitigation plan can reduce harm to development and prevent damage to a community’s unique assets.
The 2012 plan was a thorough assessment of disasters that threaten Wasco County, an identification of systems and structures that are vulnerable to disruption, and a guide to various strategies to mitigate these losses and negative impacts. It also included a selection of other tools and resources to assist a variety of County agencies in their hazard mitigation efforts. The update will identify which strategies have been completed successfully, which ones need more work, and what new strategies should be employed. The process will incorporate input from the citizens of the County, as well as a broad range of government, private, and nonprofit organizations.
So far, the steering committee has been formed and has met twice to begin reviewing what needs to be updated and plan how to proceed with the process. The next meeting will be in early summer with a public meeting planned for mid-summer. The plan will be completed by the fall and submitted to FEMA so that they may review it and approve it before January 2018.
The most important outcome of this planning process will be the actions and strategies identified to mitigate the risk of damage from disasters throughout the County. Previous action items include identifying funding sources for mitigation actions, developing outreach programs, update hazard maps, educating vulnerable populations, and other disaster specific actions such as treating hazard fuels, or improving understanding of landslide risks. Part of the public process will be soliciting feedback on previous action item’s effectiveness and any suggestions for new actions and strategies. A survey will be created and online soon. Please visit http://co.wasco.or.us/departments/planning/long_range/natural_hazards_mitigation_plan.php for more information and contact Associate Planner Will Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Emergency Manger Juston Huffman (email@example.com) with any questions, comments, or suggestions.