Current situation

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Monday, November 25, 2013

State Forester Doug Decker on the 2013 fire season

[Following is an excerpt from Oregon State Forester Doug Decker's Nov. 25 message to Oregon Dept. of Forestry personnel.]

Though the fires are out and the smoke has now cleared, I know you’ll agree with me that the 2013 fire season is still with us, and will be for some time. We were busy last week in the Oregon Legislature talking about fire, and I wanted to pass along some good news about the latest milestone related to this last fire season.

We brought three key financial items before the legislature last Thursday and Friday, all of which were met with strong support, allowing us to continue ahead with bill paying, and with preparing for the 2014 fire season. Last week’s Legislative Emergency Board strongly affirmed our work by approving our request for increased spending authority, including the $2 million from the Special Purpose Appropriation, and agreeing to take up our request for an additional $40 million in General Fund money during the February 2014 legislative session. During three legislative committee meetings on Thursday and Friday, legislators went out of their way to thank all firefighters and the department for its work last summer. Woven through the conversations was a strong interest in minimizing future fire risks through active forest management, and concerns about the long-term impacts of climate change.

On Wednesday, I participated in a panel discussion with the Bureau of Land Management and a private landowner representative in front of the Senate Rural Communities and Economic Development Committee on the topic of post-fire recovery. I was proud to highlight the Southwest Oregon District’s swift response on the fire salvage work underway on state forests burned in the Douglas Complex – though not a lot of acres – still an important demonstration for us as forest stewards of our state forests. There is a lot of interest from this committee – especially on the topic of federal forests management.

Last week’s support from the Oregon Legislature and ongoing support from the Governor’s Office is in harmony with what we’ve heard during the recent fall fire protection association meetings now underway. During these sessions, landowners and cooperators have candidly and sincerely expressed their thanks to the department.

Comments and questions

The purpose of this blog is to provide breaking news about wildfire activity on the forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. We invite you to post questions or comments about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

What we do

Protection jurisdiction
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects 16 million acres of private and public forestlands from wildfire. This includes all private forestlands in Oregon as well as state and local government-owned forests, along with 2.8 million acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the state. In total there are about 30.4 million acres of forest in Oregon.

Fire suppression policy
The department fights fire aggressively, seeking to put out most fires at 10 acres or smaller. This approach minimizes damage to the timber resource and fish and wildlife habitat, and protects lives and property. It also saves money. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.


About Me

My photo
Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers in Salem, Ore., maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.