Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Save the Date: Era of Megafires

Era of Megafires comes to Central Oregon
Nationally recognized ecologist Paul Hessburg presents options for reshaping our wildfire problem

Bend, OR: It may not feel like it outside, but fire season is on its way. This March, local partners are coming together to offer three Era of Megafire presentations for Central Oregonians. The Deschutes Land Trust, Sunriver Owners Association, and Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District are sponsoring events in Bend, Sunriver, and Sisters.

Deschutes Land Trust is hosting Dr. Paul Hessburg as part of their winter Nature Nights series and the Sister's event, hosted at the Belfry is sponsored in part by the Sisters Science Club. Last year was a record fire year with 9.1 million acres burning in the US. More than 680,000 acres burned in Oregon alone, in at least 33 different fires, one of which was a Megafire that burned over 190,000 acres. Dr. Hessburg will present to the audience an engaging, multimedia presentation about wildfire, its natural role in our local forests, and how that role has changed. Dr. Hessburg will present the multiple options available to our community to reshape the wildfire problem and how we can all better learn to live with fire.

Each Era of Megafire event is free to attend; however, registration for the Bend and Sunriver events is required. Date, time, location, and ticketing information is below:

Bend with Deschutes Land Trust's Nature Night: Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 from 7:00-8:30 pm at the Tower Theater. Tickets go on sale February 20th here (

Sunriver with Project Wildfire: Wednesday, March 21st, 2018, 6:00-8:30 pm at the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center (SHARC). Tickets go on sale February 20th here

Sisters with Sisters Science Club: Thursday, March 22nd, 2018, 6:30-8:30 pm at The Belfry. Tickets will be available at the door, donations will be accepted but not required (pre-registration is not required).

Paul Hessburg, Ph.D., is a Research Ecologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, US Forest Service. He has been studying historical and modern era forests of the Inland West for the last 32 years, publishing extensively in leading national and international journals. His work documents large changes in forest conditions and how these changes, along with climate change, have set the stage for large & severe wildfires. This presentation is an outgrowth of his research and his concerns for the future.

About Deschutes Land Trust:
The Deschutes Land Trust is Central Oregon's locally-based, nationally-accredited land trust. Since 1995, the Deschutes Land Trust has protected more than 8,900 acres for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities. For more information on the Deschutes Land Trust, contact us at (541) 330-0017 or visit

For more information on Project Wildfire visit: 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Greater La Pine Basin Cohesive Strategy Project

Wildfire seasons are growing longer and more severe throughout the west and in Oregon. Thanks to recent federal funding, local communities in Oregon are tackling the challenge head-on through forest restoration.  Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $32 million nationwide investment for wildfire prevention projects on public and private lands, with $4.4 million going to local Oregon projects.
The funding is provided through the Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership, an initiative led by the chiefs of two USDA agencies—the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Now in its fifth year, the Joint Chiefs' Partnership brings together local landowners and partners to accomplish forest restoration on both federally managed national forests and adjacent private lands.

Locally there is a project making meaningful progress in Central Oregon's forests; Greater La Pine Basin Cohesive Strategy Project, or commonly referred to as the Joint Chief's Project. This is a project put forth by multiple partners in the area to break down barriers between ownerships. This three-year project began in 2016 to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire on state, federal, and private lands in southern Deschutes County and Northern Klamath County. Project partners are doing pre-commercial thinning, brush management, fuel breaks and other activities to improve forest health and reduce fire risk. Total funding received for this year is over $1.7 million. 
Wildfire, invasive species, and water quality concerns don't stop at the boundaries of private and public land. The local Joint Chief's Project gives partners an opportunity to not look at boundaries. The only way the challenge of wildfire will be met will be by working together with agency partners, stakeholders, and private landowners.
One of the many success stories is a project on public land, called the Dilman unit. It's a ¼-mile wide fuel break, an area with reduced vegetation, extending from the Deschutes River southward to the Ponderosa Pines neighborhood in La Pine. By creating this fuel break, the hazardous fuels are reduced and it increases firefighting effectiveness over a five-mile expanse in the Wildland Urban Interface directly adjacent to La Pine and Sunriver Communities. This unit, nearly 800 acres, was planned in 2001 and some treatment occurred in 2003. However, the funding and workforce capacity made treatment of the entire unit extremely difficult. Until the funding from the Joint Chief's Project presented itself as an opportunity. 

The Joint Chief's funding was used to capitalize on existing partnerships and fund personnel from Oregon Department of Forestry, Department of Corrections, Central Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, and US Forest Service to complete the fuel reduction in this project area. US Forest Service crews will continue throughout the winter to complete pile burning to complete the suite of restoration activities.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Project Wildfire: 2017 Activities and Accomplishments

It honestly felt like we were just starting to get into the groove of 2017 and now it’s time to jump forward into 2018. Before we tackle 2018 head-on, Project Wildfire would like to take this time to reflect on all the successes from 2017 throughout Deschutes County. Below you’ll find a few of the highlights from the past year.  A big thank you goes out to all of our partners for their continued commitment to making all of our work a reality.

Community Wildfire Protection

Project Wildfire in cooperation with Deschutes County is working on fuels reduction projects summarized in three separate grant proposals. Through these funding opportunities, Project Wildfire implemented 13 projects within multiple areas in Deschutes County treating a total of 485 acres. One of these projects occurred in a Firewise Community in La Pine that yielded the largest project they’ve implemented since gaining their Firewise Recognition in 2013. Work and planning is still ongoing on an additional four projects on 227 acres that will be complete by 2018’s fire season. In the planning arena, Project Wildfire coordinated the update and revision of the Redmond CWPP and with the assistance of the local community developed an outreach magazine as an educational tool for their CWPP.  


This year FireFree reached our 20th-year milestone. The sustained success and participation of residents and partners is inspirational. We saw a continuation of the events in Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, and Klamath Counties again this year. After the spring events in all four counties were complete residents had delivered a total of 31,383 cubic yards. And in the fall residents brought in 14,857 cubic yards trying to get a jump on fire season in 2018. FireFree events in 2017 resulted in a total of 46,420 cubic yards collected. In addition to the dedicated residents that participated in FireFree, Project Wildfire would like to thank our partners at Deschutes Recycling and Deschutes County Solid Waste for making these events a success.

 Wildfires and Lessons Learned

The fire season in Central Oregon gave us a run for our money this year. There were multiple teachable moments and success stories borne out of this fire season. The Milli Fire provided an illustration of how well placed fuel treatment can make the difference in the success of our local resources. It provided a clear argument for how forest restoration and prescribed burning in strategic locations can reduce fire behavior and contribute to the ability of a safe and effective response, which ultimately reduced the threat to surrounding neighborhoods.

The solar eclipse also made an appearance in Central Oregon skies, offering an added layer of complexity. The eclipse provided a unique opportunity for local resources and emergency management to preplan for the impacts of extra visitors to Central Oregon. Project Wildfire was offered the opportunity to participate in the Joint Information Center, which was coordinating information for the eclipse, fire evacuations, fire prevention, and general event information. The Joint Information Center experience produced new partnerships and relationships as well as new recognition of our educational program by community members. 

 Education, Outreach, and Learning

Project Wildfire participated in many educational opportunities in 2017. Project Wildfire was present at the Home and Garden Show, Wildland Urban Interface Conference in Reno, and Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network Workshop in Nevada. Many presentations were given to communities throughout the County on FireFree and Firewise principles. With the help of Oregon Department of Forestry, Project Wildfire hosted multiple small Senate Bill 360 trainings for Firewise Committees. With the help of local Fire Districts and Oregon Department of Forestry, we have added three new Firewise Communities in Deschutes County. The total count in Deschutes County is now at 23.

After three productive years participating in the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, the partnership continues to provide an excellent learning opportunity for Project Wildfire and its partners to push the envelope locally. This year we began the long road to Long-Term Recovery Planning with local partners. In partnership with Central Washington, Southern Oregon, and the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network we planned and implemented a kick-off workshop in Hood River for key figures in Long-Term Recovery. We walked away with a better idea of where to start and the partners we need in the room for that discussion. We will continue our discussion in early 2018.

Also the help of the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, Project Wildfire, and our partners designed and created a 6-part video series focused exclusively on evacuation preparedness. These videos were released over a 6-week digital campaign prior to fire season. Coined as “Make A Plan Monday” our videos featured partners from the Humane Society, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, and the Red Cross. Our topics included basic evacuation tips, pet evacuation preparedness, kid preparedness ideas, evacuation kit building, and business preparedness. The entire campaign reached over 50,000 local residents and we were able to use these videos during the Milli Fire evacuation.

 Check Out Our Websites!                           

Last year we migrated our websites over to new platforms and templates. Over the course of 2017, more edits and changes were made to our websites to improve them. Our Make A Plan Monday videos and information are also now incorporated in the evacuation messaging to improve the way we educate residents about preparing themselves.

The Year Ahead

Project Wildfire is looking forward to 2018 and the new projects and partnerships the New Year promises. We are hoping to accomplish fuel treatment in neighborhoods identified in Southern Deschutes County and Sisters. The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network continues to pay dividends by allowing us to bring best practices home from a network that is tackling the same topics. Project Wildfire’s business model is now being applied to other areas throughout the Pacific Northwest, we couldn’t be happier to be on the forefront of tackling the wildland fire issues that concern us all. Project Wildfire is able to highlight the great things happening here in Deschutes County thanks to all our partners.  See you all next year!

2017 Project Wildfire Award Recipients

Monday, November 27, 2017

Central Oregonians Show Their Commitment to Preparedness

With some of the great fall weather in Central Oregon, residents in the Bend area took advantage of the Half Price Yard Debris Sale and delivered 9,991 cubic yards of flammable yard waste to Deschutes Recycling. In partnership with the FireFree program, Deschutes Recycling offered the Half Price event to encourage residents to recycle yard waste instead of risking an escaped debris fire by burning it. Residents in Jefferson County also responded by bringing 4,866 cubic yards of yard debris to Box Canyon Transfer Station in Madras during their FireFree event. 

This brings the total FireFree material collected this spring to 14,857 cubic yards in the regional area!

“With the long fire season we had this year, locally and throughout the state, provided a great reminder for residents that fire preparedness is a year round activity,” says Alison Green, Program Coordinator for the FireFree program.  “The Fall Half Price Sale and events regionally give residents a terrific alternative to dispose of their flammable yard waste without burning,” adds Green. 

From October 30th through November 10th local residents continued with their defensible space projects by cleaning up pine needles, brush and tree limbs from around homes to help prepare their properties for wildfire next season.
 FireFree is a year-round effort to educate community members and increase resident participation in preparing for wildfires.  Residents are encouraged to visit for more information about defensible space, reducing the structural vulnerability of homes and getting prepared for fire season.

For more information about FireFree activities in your area, call your local fire department or Project Wildfire at 541-322-7129.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

California Wildfires highlight local lessons

Central Oregon's robust wildfire preparedness programs throughout the region have allowed for sustained success during our local fire seasons. The local success is the result of active collaboration by private and public agencies, entities, groups, and individuals to address the three most prevalent challenges and goals across the landscape: creating fire resilient landscapes, fostering effective wildfire response, and creating fire-adapted communities. Even with the local success, the recent devastating fires in California offers several sobering lessons for Central Oregon residents. With 1,500 homes and more than 15 lives lost, Project Wildfire takes this opportunity to remind residents about preparing themselves and their family for disasters.

With some simple steps you are able to protect your home and community from a wildfire. The only way to ensure that your property is protected is to define your defensible space. Regardless of what your neighbor has done on their property, be the example; create your defensible space. It is the individual taking responsibility for their home that can save neighborhoods. The partners of Project Wildfire emphasize that whole community approaches, such as Firewise Communities, can make a world of difference.

"Defining the defensible space around your home is the most important thing you can do to protect your home and neighborhood," says Alison Green, Program Coordinator for Project Wildfire. "Starting with your own personal preparedness and translating that to your neighbors will increase your whole community's resiliency, not only to wildfires but to all disasters."

To define your defensible space, keep grass and weeds cut low and always be prepared to respond to wildfire. With this in mind, Project Wildfire urges you to take a look around your property in the "home ignition zone" where glowing embers can ignite spot fires and vulnerable areas like decks, patios and fences that can spread flames to your home.

Where are your most vulnerable places for glowing embers to ignite your home?
  • Are your gutters and roof valleys free from debris like pine needles and leaves? Clean them out.  Despite a metal or asphalt shingle roof, the buildup of gutter debris provides the necessary fuel for the glowing embers to ignite adjacent fascia boards or siding – most often made of wood.
  • Do your shrubs and weeds provide a path of fuel for a fire to reach your trees or home?  Reduce shrubs and other "ladder fuels" around your home to reduce the threat of ground fires igniting nearby trees, or your home.
  • What can catch fire on your deck or patio or near your fence?  Remove weeds, shrubs or any combustible materials from around, under or on top of your deck, patio or wood fence.   This includes toys, planters, construction materials, furniture and cushions along with even small piles of pine needles or leaves.
  • Is your wood pile near your home or other combustible vegetation?  Move wood piles at least 20 feet away from your home or other combustibles.

Being prepared for an evacuation is also critical to your family's survival in disasters. Making sure you have your 5 P's: People, Pets, Pills, Photos, important Papers, and your 72-hour kit ready to go. Keep these things in a spot in your home that is easily accessed so you can leave in a hurry.

"Evacuations rarely ever happen when we are all at home and ready for them to occur," says Green. "When a disaster strikes, it could be 3 am when your whole family is asleep or during the workday. An ounce of evacuation planning can save your family from a true disaster."

With the long fire season behind us, it's a hard ask of residents to maintain their vigilance. With the arrival of fall weather, our fire risk has eased but it hasn't disappeared altogether; stay aware of the local conditions and/or restrictions in your area. Even with many fire districts opening burn season, residents need to call their local fire district to ensure the district is allowing burning at this time, that it is a burn day, and to obtain any necessary permits.

For more information on Firewise visit For more information on Project Wildfire visit or call 541.322.7129.

For information on local FireFree events visit