ORS 477.120¹
Liability of owner or operator

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, the owner or operator of forestland is not subject to the obligations or penalties of ORS 164.335 (Reckless burning) and 477.740 (Unlawful use of fire) or 477.064 (Uncontrolled fire declared nuisance), 477.066 (Duty of owner and operator to abate fire) and 477.068 (Liability for cost of abatement) if:

(a) Forest patrol assessments are regularly paid for the forestland;

(b) Such forestland is protected pursuant to membership in a forest protective association in accordance with ORS 477.210 (Duty of owner to protect forestland), which association has undertaken the control and suppression of fires on such land as provided in the contract; or

(c) Such forestland is protected pursuant to cooperative agreement or contract under ORS 477.406 (Cooperative contracts or agreements for forest protection or forest related activities).

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section do not apply to such owner or operator if the owner or operator:

(a) Is willful, malicious or negligent in the origin or subsequent spread of a fire on such forestland;

(b) Has caused or permitted an operation to exist on such forestland and a fire originates thereon as a result of the operation;

(c) Has failed to give notice to the forester pursuant to ORS 527.670 (Commencement of operations) (6), has failed to obtain a permit for the use of fire in any form or power-driven machinery pursuant to ORS 477.625 (Permit to use fire or power-driven machinery) or has failed within the time prescribed in any order or notice issued by the forester to reduce, abate, or offset any hazard determined to exist pursuant to ORS 477.062 (Inadequately protected forestland declared nuisance) or 477.580 (Determination of additional fire hazards) and a fire originates on or spreads to the area on which such hazard exists and for which no release has been granted pursuant to ORS 477.580 (Determination of additional fire hazards) (3) or (4); or

(d) Has caused or allowed any burning, including burning regulated by ORS 477.013 (Smoke management plan) or 477.515 (Permits required for fires on forestlands), whether or not a permit has been obtained and a fire results from or is caused by such burning.

(3) Unless subsection (2)(a) or (c) of this section applies, the owner or operator shall not be obligated to pay that portion of the actual costs provided in ORS 477.068 (Liability for cost of abatement) which are the ordinary costs of the regular personnel and equipment of the forest protection district wherein the forestland is located.

(4) If subsection (2)(b) or (d) of this section applies and subsection (2)(a) and (c) of this section do not apply, the owner or operator shall not be liable to the forester for fire suppression costs in excess of $300,000.

(5) The provisions of subsections (3) and (4) of this section do not apply to the owner or operator if the owner or operator fails to make every reasonable effort.

(6) For the purpose of subsection (2)(b) of this section, if a fire originates while an operation is in progress, there is a presumption, under ORS 40.120 (Rule 308. Presumptions in civil proceedings), that the fire originated as a result of the operation. [Formerly 477.056; 1971 c.743 §385; 1973 c.46 §2; 1983 c.22 §4; 1989 c.615 §1; 1997 c.274 §48; 2007 c.847 §2]

Notes of Decisions

Opera­tion on forestland refers to ongoing ac­tivity, not to permanent fixtures, such as power lines, that remain on landscape after opera­tion has ceased. Dept. of Forestry v. Columbia Basin Elec. Co-op, 294 Or 284, 655 P2d 1053 (1982)

1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 477—Fire Protection of Forests and Vegetation, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­477.­html (2007) (last ac­cessed Feb. 12, 2009).
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2007, Chapter 477, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­477ano.­htm (2007) (last ac­cessed Feb. 12, 2009).
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.
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