2015 another severe fire season

By mid-October 2016, ODF's net expenditures on large wildfires stood at $13.2 million. The lack of dry lightning played a significant role in the moderate firefighting costs this season. In 2015, large-fire costs totaled $29.6 million.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Fire Season on ODF-protected lands begins June 3

Contact: Brian Ballou, (541) 665-0662 or (541) 621-4156

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.

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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

The weather conditions setting up for this summer are ominous: continuing drought, meager winter snowpack, and above-average temperatures forecast through August.

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. Suppression of large fires can run into millions of dollars.

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