2015 another severe fire season

A cool, wet winter and heavy snowpack delayed the start of fire season in much of western and northeastern Oregon. However, the onset of hotter, drier weather is quickly drying out forests and rangeland, making it easier for fires to start. More than half of ODF-protected lands are in districts that have declared the start of fire season this month. It's especially important as summer approaches to avoid or be extra careful with any potential source of fire in wooded areas. Fire season means the end of most outdoor activities that are high risk for starting a fire, such as debris burning, campfires outside of designated areas, and using tracer ammunition and exploding targets.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

After the fire: Technical advice and guidance available from Oregon Dept. of Forestry

Christie Shaw
Public Information Officer
(541) 263-0661

It has been nearly three weeks since the Mason Springs and Berry Creek fires came roaring down canyon, consuming everything in their path.  These fires merged, known as the Canyon Creek Complex, they continue to burn in the surrounding hillsides.  While the smoke still lingers and the shock starts to wear off, residents begin the planning stages of the difficult rebuilding process.  Thoughts of how to rebuild and reclaim a community from the fire aftermath are forming.  The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) wants to be a part of this process of restoring communities in Grant County.
The John Day Unit of ODF employs a staff that can help by providing technical assistance to landowners in the rebuilding of their forested landscapes.  This staff is vital in helping the community return the forests and wildland back to pre-fire conditions over time while meeting the requirements of the Oregon Forest Practices Act.
Scorched and burned out silhouettes remain where grass, shrubs and trees were once part of the landscape.  As we move toward fall and the rainy season, fragile soil that was held in place by this vegetation becomes a threat to water quality.  Rules in the Oregon Forest Practices Act are intended to limit damage to soils and streamside vegetation which can filter ash and sediment from run-off on these blackened slopes.  While you may want to get started right away clearing burned vegetation, that vegetation may be critical for soil stabilization until new plants become established.  ODF Stewardship Foresters can help landowners navigate through the rules and processes which are in place to maintain healthy forests. 
ODF wants to assist landowners through the process for removing hazard trees near homes and infrastructure as well as planning for and implementing salvage logging operations and post fire recovery efforts on private forestlands.  ODF John Day Unit Stewardship Forester Ryan Miller explains, “We don’t want to stop someone from removing a tree that poses a safety hazard, we just want to ensure that we protect streams and soil. We can provide landowners options and technical advice for removing hazards while protecting the environment.”  Stewardship Foresters can also provide advice on how to restore vegetation back to a site.  Contact the local ODF Office in John Day (541-575-1139) for more information. 

Additional information and guidance for forest activities is available online at www.oregon.gov/odf/privateforests/pages/fpakeys.aspx

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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 you have about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity. You are also welcome to contact us by email at: information@odf.state.or.us.

Current wildfire info

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick snowpack at higher elevations which will take some time to melt. However, even in non-drought years Oregon's warm, dry summers create conditions that allow for fire to start and spread. In an average summer firefighters still see almost a thousand fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

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. There are about 30.4 million total 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

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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.