Current situation

Fire season on ODF-protected land has ended in most of Oregon as cooler temperatures, shorter days and moister conditions settle over much of the state. Exceptions are ODF-protected lands in the southern border counties of Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake.






























Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ODF helps rangeland associations combat fires with excess federal equipment



Left: Jordan Valley Rangeland Protection Association volunteers in Malheur County with excess federal equipment obtained through ODF's help. These were used to help JVRPA fight the Bowden Fire earlier this year.


With land often owned in a checkerboard fashion in many parts of Oregon, a fire starting on lands not protected by ODF can soon endanger lands the agency does protect. That is one reason ODF supports rural fire entities. One way the agency has been doing that is through requesting excess equipment from the federal government and channeling it to local fire districts to refurbish and use. Last year, ODF funneled $9 million worth of equipment to local firefighting organizations statewide.

Mike McKeen is ODF coordinator for the Federal Excess Property Program and Federal Firefighter Program (FFP). McKeen says the FEPP has been around since the 1970s and handles all kinds of excess federal equipment. ODF obtains the equipment through the U.S. Forest Service, which retains ownership but allows the item to be permanently loaned to local jurisdictions. The FFP is newer, having begun in 2010. It distributes only military excess property, which becomes permanent property of the fire district after a year of being in service.

While the program has benefited rural fire districts across the state, nowhere has the equipment been more welcome than in the wide expanses of eastern Oregon's rangelands.

A case in point is the Jordan Valley Rangeland Fire Protection Association. One of 22 organizations set up since 1964 to fight fires on Oregon's rangelands, Jordan Valley's volunteers are responsible for protecting 2.5 million acres in Malheur County - an area larger than most ODF fire districts.

"They have a huge amount of ground to cover," said McKeen.

Through ODF, Jordan Valley has received equipment from both the Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) and Fire Fighter Program (FFP). With ODF's help, Jordan Valley has obtained 19 pieces of excess federal equipment ranging from Type 6 engines to 5,000-gallon water tank trailers, truck tractors and a D7G bulldozer.

The value of all this equipment? Just the equipment from the federal Fire Fighter Program had an original value of $1,172,000, according to McKeen. 

 


 




 
 
 
 
 
 

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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

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.



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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.





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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.