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News Release
Rangeland Fire Protection Association Annual Summit--neighbors helping neighbors - 04/18/24

BURNS, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry recently hosted the 2024 Rangeland Fire Protection Association Summit in Burns, Oregon. The annual summit provides a forum for the 28 Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs) to meet with each other and partners in the spirit of helping each other be more effective at fighting wildfire on Oregon’s range. 

RFPAs are an integral part of the complete and coordinated wildfire protection system in Oregon. Oregon’s 28 rangeland associations across eastern Oregon provide initial attack response to wildfires on nearly 17.5 million acres of public and private ownership. Association members have a unique interest in suppressing wildfires since the lands they protect impact their livelihoods and those of their neighbors. 

During the summit the rangeland associations share information such as current membership, planned prevention and mitigation strategies, and lessons learned from the previous year’s wildfires. 

“The summit is an invaluable resource for association members and partners to advance wildfire suppression capability on Oregon’s rangeland, cropland, sage grouse habitat, and livestock forage that are crucial to the local economy,” said Allison Rayburn, ODF’s Rangeland Fire Coordinator.

An important part of the summit is the presentation of the Outstanding Neighbor Award, given to association members who are instrumental in supporting and growing their association. This year’s Outstanding Neighbor Award was presented to John O’Keeffe, president of the Warner Valley RFPA. O’Keeffe has represented local land interests and worked on ecological issues locally as a member of Oregon’s Wildfire Programs Advisory Council and the Oregon Cattleman’s Association, and nationally as a member of the Public Lands Council and National Wildland Fire Mitigation Management Commission.

“The people in this room are what makes this work. We want to have another generation, and another generation after that on the landscape and advocacy in far-away places is a large part of making that happen. I’ve been fortunate to have the local support to participate,” said O’Keeffe.

The history of RFPAs in Oregon started with legislation enacted in 1963 that allowed the formation of associations. In 1964, the Ironside RFPA was formed in northern Malheur County. For many years they were the lone association in the state. However, in 1998, a new era of RFPA interest emerged. Between 1998 and 2001, five additional RFPAs were formed and new associations have continued to form since then. There are currently 28 associations with over 1,200 volunteers. Association partner agencies include ODF, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon’s Office of the State Fire Marshal, Oregon State University Extension Service, county emergency managers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

View more news releases from Oregon Dept. of Forestry.