Monday, May 22, 2017

Central Oregon Residents Prepare for Fire Season During FireFree

This past week marked the first part of FireFree events in Bend, Sunriver, and the Box Canyon Transfer Site in Jefferson County for residents to dispose of yard waste for FREE in an effort to create and maintain defensible space around homes – in the "Home Ignition Zone".   

Bend area residents responded by bringing 17,473 cubic yards of flammable yard waste to Knott Landfill while residents on Bend's west side took advantage of the convenient West Side Collection Site and recycled 3,431 cubic yards of pine needles and other debris.  

Residents in Jefferson County also responded by bringing 4,073 cubic yards of yard debris to Box Canyon Transfer Station in Madras over the weekend.

The overall total collected for the first round of FireFree events was 25,477 cubic yards, which is a 10% increase from last year! 

"The Home Ignition Zone is the most vulnerable part of the residential property when a wildfire is nearby", states FireFree Program Coordinator Alison Green. "Individual homeowners are our greatest resource when it comes to protecting structures in the event of a wildfire". 
The FireFree message is a year-round effort to educate community members about how they can be prepared for wildfires.  Residents are encouraged to visit the for more information on reducing the structural ignitability of homes.  

There's still more opportunities left to dispose of yard waste and debris for FREE! 

FireFree allows residents of Central Oregon the opportunity to dump yard waste and debris at no charge at area landfills and transfer stations.

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

Crescent & Chemult
Transfer Stations 8AM-4PM
June 2-3, 2017
Crescent Cutoff Road (Crescent) & Highway 97 South (Chemult)

Please remember to cover your loads! Drivers of uncovered loads and loads that lose debris along the roadways are subject to a large fine. 

For participating residents please note that manure, sod and construction debris are not permitted free of charge during these cleanup days.  They will be accepted although regular rates for these materials will apply.  

For more information about FireFree activities in your area, visit

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