Monday, April 17, 2017

Help Is Out There

Is your house at risk from a wildfire?  If you live in Central Oregon it is very likely you will be affected by a wildfire.  That's because of we live in an ecosystem that has developed with fire as an integral component.  The old adage of not "if" but "when" definitely applies to fire in our environment.  Government agencies in Central Oregon are tasked with responding to fight wildfires, but they also have set a goal of reducing threat before the fire even starts.  It is a much more efficient use of resources to prevent catastrophic fires rather than fighting them.  As a result, many of the efforts in our area revolve around reducing the risk by replicating the effects of fire with low intensity controlled burns or modifications in the burnable fuels.      

These efforts are often large scale, but let's not forget that the individual land owner is a part of the strategy.  Realizing that fact often prompts homeowners to see what they can do to be a part of the effort.  Be aware that local government agencies are also very concerned about what happens on private land.  Efforts by homeowners affect the overall strategy to prevent a wildfire from growing to catastrophic levels.  When a wildfire actually starts the primary goal of firefighters is life safety and property protection.  The local agencies are anxious to help people take steps to protect their property and will assist you in any way they can.  It will help them meet that life safety goal for both you and firefighters.    
So how do you enlist the help of these agencies?  First, "get involved" government agencies have found that success in a community can only happen through active participation of community members.  Areas in Central Oregon are generally subject to Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs).  These are plans written by agencies and citizens that identify high risk areas so that overall goals can be set for government as well as private lands.  CWPPs are used to focus resources of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management Oregon Department of Forestry and local fire departments to protect sensitive or high value areas identified in the plan.  The plans also give a strategic direction to the many agencies and citizens involved in planning for wildfire.   CWPPs are used to apply for grants, for fuel modifications on public land as well as for work on private lands.  These grants target the areas identified by the CWPP contributors as important.  That means you can make a difference simply by participating.  The CWPPs are renewed every five years and are always open for public comment.  You are encouraged to attend and give your opinions.  For more information contact Project Wildfire at  
You should also know what agencies are responsible for fire protection in your area.  If there are federal lands in the vicinity of your property find which agency is responsible for the protection of those lands.  Oregon Department of Forestry has responsibility for many private lands located in or near forested areas.   You should also be familiar with the local fire department charged with the responsibility of protecting your property.  Once you know those agencies, make contact with them.  They often have resources that can assist you in getting information on creating defensible space.  Those resources can be as simple as a supply of brochures for you and your neighbors or perhaps a personal visit by a fire representative.  In some cases, you can actually have an assessment done on your property with recommendations on steps you can take to create defensible space.  Local fire departments may also tour the inside as well as the outside of your house.  The inspectors have an eye to not just wildfire safety, but a holistic approach to reduction of all home hazards.  One fire district even provides small grants intended for landowners to initiate campaigns to reduce wildfire risk in their neighborhoods.
Partnerships made up of both private and public representatives are the true way to get meaningful things done.  This is especially true in Central Oregon where there is such a mixture of land ownership and the different responsibilities protecting them.  You need to know that local agencies not only want your participation, they NEED IT!  Only by coming together can we mitigate the natural effects fire and reducing catastrophic events to manageable ones.   

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017 FireFree Dates

Please see the following dates for the Spring FireFree event coming up this May in the central Oregon area. Please pass these dates along to interested parties.

Reduce the risk of losing your home to wildfire and take advantage of FREE yard debris disposal at local collection sites.

Create and maintain defensible space around your home and recycle your needles, branches, brush, shrubs and limbs for FREE!

Knott Landfill 7AM - 5PM
May 6 THROUGH 14, 2017
61050 SE 27th Street, Bend

Westside Collection Site 8AM-4PM
May 5-6 & 12-13, 2017
19755 SW Simpson Avenue, Bend (Between Century Drive & Mt. Washington on Simpson Ave.)

Negus Transfer Station 8AM-4PM
June 2-3, 2017
2400 NE Maple Way, Redmond

Northwest Transfer Station 8AM-4PM
June 2-3, 2017
68200 Fryrear Road, Cloverdale (Sisters)

La Pine
Southwest Transfer Station 8AM-4PM
June 2-3, 2017
54580 Highway 97, La Pine

Sunriver Compost Site 8AM-4PM
May 5-6, 2017
Cottonwood Road, Sunriver

Box Canyon Transfer Station 8AM-4PM
April 29-30 & May 6-7, 2017
1778 NW Mill Street, Madras

Crook County Landfill 8AM-4PM
May 6, 2017
110 SW Landfill Rd, Prineville

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 For more information on Fire Adapted Communities

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.