Thursday, February 16, 2017

Where to get pile and prescribed burning information


We are right in the middle of pile burning and prescribed fire season on the Deschutes National Forest. Fuels specialists conduct prescribed burns to remove hazardous fuels from the forest floor and increase forest health. 


Typically pile burning is used to remove the concentrations of leftover materials associated with previous vegetation management activities intended to remove hazardous fuels that can burn during summer wildfires. Once ignited, units are monitored by firefighters until they are declared out.


Fuels specialists follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires (including pile burning) and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.


Where can you find information on burning in central Oregon forests? There are multiple links you can follow to get up to date information on pile burns and prescribed fire.


Central Oregon Dispatch Twitter Feed: Central OR Fire Info


Ochoco National Forest Twitter Feed: Ochoco NF


Deschutes National Forest FB: Deschutes National Forest

Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project: DCFP Blog


Interactive Prescribed Fire Map: Interactive Map


Prescribed Fire in Central Oregon: Prescribed Fire in CO


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hazardous Fuels Treatments Pay Off!


Last Friday firefighters from Oregon Department of Forestry, US Forest Service, Sisters Camp Sherman Fire District, and Cloverdale Fire District responded to a fire located off of Wilt Road north of Sisters that is owned by Deschutes County. Prior fuel treatments in the area allowed for a successful coordinated multi-agency initial attack response to easily stop the fire at one acre. Due to the condition of the fuels, resources easily contained the fire and began mop-up even as temperatures reached 90 degrees and winds gusted at 10-15 miles per hour.

Approximately ten years ago the property had small Ponderosa Pine, Juniper trees and brush removed, considerably reducing the fire fuels available to burn. Typically the presence of small trees (ladder fuels) and thick under brush make controlling a fire under hot and dry conditions difficult for fire resources. With the fuels reduction project, today the understory on this particular parcel is composed of small scattered shrubs, bunchgrass and ponderosa pine. Not a single tree torched in the fire area, the fire stayed on the ground and could easily be controlled by firefighters arriving on scene with water and hand tools.

“Conditions are especially dry this fire season even with the wet winter and spring we had this year, increasing the potential for fires to spread quickly,” notes Ed Keith, Deschutes County Forester. “Fuel reduction projects such as this allow for safer and more effective fire suppression,” explains Ed Keith.

“Fires are a natural occurrence here in Central Oregon, so everyone, including Deschutes County, must take responsibility for their property to mitigate the potential losses to themselves and their neighbors, “ adds Ed Keith. “Everyone, from homeowners to firefighters and other community leaders have a role to play in wildfire preparedness and better adapting to wildfire in Deschutes County,” says Ed Keith.

“Fuels treatments on landscapes and defensible space projects greatly reduce the impact that fires will have on the landscape and in neighborhoods adjacent to those landscapes,” says Alison Green, Program Coordinator for Project Wildfire. “Hazardous fuels treatments allow for safe and effective fire suppression and a chance for communities to better understand their roles and responsibilities when living in a fire prone environment such as central Oregon,” she adds.  

The outcome could have been very different if the fire had occurred in the same area but where fuels had not been reduced. This fire is added proof that years of coordinated fuel reduction efforts by County, State, Federal and private landowners in Deschutes County pay dividends in the form of providing a safer environment for firefighters to work in while also providing safety to communities.


For more information about Project Wildfire visit www.projectwildfire.org. For more information on Fire Adapted Communities fireadaptednetwork.org



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Not Just Another Prescribed Burn



With the recent restoration activity near Phil's Trailhead the past spring many folks are getting used to seeing prescribed fire near Bend. But today's prescribed burn is so much more than that. This is the first project under a new participating agreement between The Deschutes National Forest, Bend Parks and Recreation District and the Tree Farm LLC.  The agreement covers fuels reduction work on 700 acres of land within Shevlin Park, the Tree Farm neighborhood and adjacent national forest lands. The prescribed burning will reduce the impacts of a large fire on the City of Bend and improve forest health and wildlife habitat.  It is expected that burning on the 700 acres will take two to three years to complete, with burns occurring primarily in the spring and late fall.

Prescribed burning these areas, in addition to the ongoing burning between Phil’s trailhead and Cascade Lakes highway, will complete a relatively continuous series of prescribed fire treatment areas that connect the Two Bulls fire area to the north and the Deschutes River to the south. The Deschutes National Forest will do a prescribed burn on lands owned and being developed by The Tree Farm LLC.  

Forest Service personnel will conduct the burn, located on the western edge of Bend between Skyliner’s Road and Shevlin Park.  In total 82 acres are planned for burning, ignitions began at 9:30 a.m. and will finish by 2 p.m.  The prescribed burn is being done only on lands within the new Tree Farm neighborhood and no Forest Service or Shevlin Park lands are included in Tuesday’s burn.

This is a shining example of an all hands all lands approach to becoming fire adapted. The burn will increase the resiliency of the landscape and overall improve fire response. 



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why didn't we all learn?

Gutted homes and smoky streets in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Fort McMurray.
TYLER HICKS/THE NEW YORK TIMES





As he stood on 12th Avenue with 35 homes and dozens of vehicles in flames around him, Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Chief Jamie Coutts was assaulted by a flood of thoughts.
One was that his team wasn’t trained to fight the kind of mega-fire that had roared out of the northeast Alberta forest in May, 2011, igniting parts of Slave Lake with a blizzard of embers that rained from the sky.
Another was “this happened in Kelowna in 2003, why didn’t we all learn from that?”
A great article on why living with fire is something we all need to consider when we choose beautiful landscapes such as central Oregon. Read the full article here: Why Didn't We All Learn?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Preparing for Evacuation & Fire Season

As we enter fire season, the Sheriffs and Emergency Managers of Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties and our partner agencies want to insure you understand the three level evacuation system and where to get current information regarding fire activity.


Level 1: Be Ready

There is an incident in your area and residents should be aware of potential evacuation. Be aware of the danger, monitor emergency services sources and local media for information. Those persons who will need additional time to exit an area or have health conditions (especially respiratory conditions that could be made worse by smoke) should consider leaving. You are encouraged to prepare or even move livestock and pets out of the area. Be prepared to leave if conditions worsen.

Level 2: Get Set

There is significant danger in your area and residents should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. You are encouraged to leave and should do so as soon as possible. If you choose to stay, you should be able to leave immediately if conditions worsen. You MAY have time to gather necessary items, but doing so is at your own risk. Entry to evacuated areas may be denied until the hazard subsides.

This may be the only notice you receive. Emergency services cannot guarantee we will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate.

Level 3: Go Now!

There is immediate and imminent danger and you should evacuate immediately. DO NOT delay leaving to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home. Leave immediately and as quickly as possible. Drive carefully, turn on your headlights, and follow any directions from emergency services personnel. Entry to evacuated areas will be denied until the hazard subsides.

Residents are encouraged to follow local media as well as the below sources of information to stay current on fire activity.

Current maps including evacuation areas in Deschutes County can be found at:

www.deschutes.org/emergency

For more information, you can visit the Central Oregon Fire Information site at:

http://centralorfireinfo.blogspot.com/

With this in mind, we urge 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. You can improve your home chance of survival by taking action before there's smoke on the horizon:

* Create defensible space around 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 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 fire to reach your trees or home? Reduce shrubs and other "ladder fuels" for at least 30 ft 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, patio furniture and cushions along with even small piles of pine needles or leaves.
* Is your woodpile near your home or other combustible vegetation? Move woodpiles at least 20 feet away from your home or other combustibles.

For more information go to: www.firefree.org

We further encourage you and your family to have a plan, get a kit, and stay informed regarding known or potential hazards in your area.

For more information go to: www.redcross.org
Or email questions to: SheriffPIO@deschutes.org