Fire season begins Friday, June 3, at 12:01 a.m. on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District. Lands affected by this declaration include state, private, county, city, and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.
The public regulated use fire danger level will be “moderate” (blue) and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level will be 1 (one).
Last year, fire season started on June 5 and ended October 28. A total of 255 fires burned on lands protected by the Southwest Oregon District, and blackened 347 acres. More than 200 of those fires were started by people and 53 fires by lightning. According to the 10-year average of fires on the district, 230 fires may burn more than 5,600 acres during fire season.
The 2016 fire season may be another very active one. A good snowpack in the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mountains recharged most of the southwest Oregon region’s reservoirs, but may have little positive effect on wildfire activity in the district, most of which covers low-elevation grass and brush lands and mid-elevation forests. Residual snowpack is at higher elevations on national forest and national park lands.
While spring was reasonably wet, it was also 6-8 degrees warmer than normal. Abundant grass and weed growth across the district will provide plenty of fuel for wildfires, once the vegetation fully cures. In addition, tree mortality from the drought has left numerous dead and dying trees scattered across the landscape. These may moderately increase the severity of forest fires in some parts of the district.
Beginning Friday, the burning of debris piles and the use of burn barrels for burning debris will no longer be allowed. Other public regulated use restrictions on ODF-protected forestlands include:
· No fireworks;
· No tracer ammunition or exploding targets;
· No sky lanterns.
Under Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1 on ODF-protected lands, commercial operations, such as timber harvesting conducted on forestlands, will be required to have fire suppression equipment on the job site at all times. A watchman must also be provided.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
· Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
· Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152
Fire season information is also available online at www.swofire.com.