Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Tree Permits Available

It’s that time of year to start thinking of the annual family trip to the woods for a holiday tree. Holiday tree permits are available at Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Offices, as well as at numerous vendor locations in southwest Oregon (see vendor list at Some locations may offer tree permits a little later than the official start date; we recommend you call the local office to check permit availability. The permits allow for the cutting of personal-use trees for Christmas and other holiday events. A permit is required for the harvest of each individual tree.

The permits sell for $ 5.00 per tree and are non-refundable. There is a limit of five tree permits per person. The permits cover large areas that include the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the Coos Bay and Medford Districts of the BLM, where lands are open to personal use tree harvesting.   Maps with directions to cutting areas will be provided at time of purchase.

The Holiday tree permit tag is validated after harvesting your tree by cutting out the date, month and year on the tree tag and securely attaching it to the cut tree in a visible location before transporting it.

Important Note:
Holiday tree harvest is not allowed in wilderness areas, campgrounds, developed recreation areas, National Monuments, Research Natural Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, or within fences or posted tree plantations, within 200 feet of state highways or on private lands.  Holiday tree cutting is also not permitted within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the Wild and Scenic Rogue River corridor and Recreation Areas.  This stresses the importance of having your tree permit map with you, along with a local Forest or BLM map, and a good understanding of your location prior to cutting.
Holiday Tree Permits
Traveling safely on public lands is very important for you and your family’s health and safety.  Keep in mind that roads on public lands administered by the Forest Service and BLM are not plowed in the winter and can present some situations that quickly become dangerous if you are not properly prepared.

On any outing to the forest this time of year, be prepared for winter weather and check weather conditions prior to departure.  It is strongly encouraged that you take a reliable map of the area (Forest Service or BLM map in addition to your tree permit map) with you and travel with a full tank of gas.  Bring along adequate supplies such as warm clothing, blankets/sleeping bags, high energy food, water, warm beverages, first aid kit, flashlight, whistle, mirror, shovel and chains.

Always let someone know where you plan to harvest your tree and when you expect to return.  Consider going out with a more experienced friend if you are new to this activity or unfamiliar with the area in which you will be travelling.

The Bear Camp Coastal route is open but not recommended for travel this time of year, as the route is not maintained for winter travel from mid-November through the end of May.  Be safe, and happy holidays!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fire Season Ends on ODF-Protected Lands in SW Oregon

Fire season ends today on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in southwest Oregon. Rainfall of at least one-half inch was recorded in many parts of the district, which includes state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Fire season started June 2 and lasted 136 days.

The termination of fire season removes fire prevention regulations on equipment use and the use of fire for debris burning. This applies to the public and to industrial operations on forestlands. However, many structural fire protection districts require permits for debris burning, and both Jackson and Josephine counties have telephone numbers to call to find out whether air quality conditions allow burning. The numbers to call are:
  • Josephine County: (541) 476-9663
  • Jackson County: (541) 776-7007
 More than 280 fires burned 9,559 acres on forestlands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District. There are 1.8 million acres of forestland within the district’s protection boundary in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The largest blaze on the district was the Oregon Gulch Fire, which burned 35,129 acres of forestland in Jackson and Klamath counties, and Northern California. The Jackson County portion of the fire burned 8,306 acres, approximately 14 miles southeast of Ashland. The Oregon Gulch Fire was reported July 30 and was one fire in a complex of 23 other lightning-caused fires scattered around Jackson County.

The Salt Creek Fire, which also started July 30, burned 155 acres of forestland approximately 8 miles west of Shady Cove.

Lightning started 98 fires on the district and burned 9,071 acres. The thunderstorms hit July 11, July 22, July 29-30, August 11 and August 18.

The earliest fire on the district this year was the 143-acre Alder Creek Fire, which started January 23 during a period of unusual dryness and strong east winds. A fire that had been set to burn slash escaped control and started the Alder Creek Fire.

The 2014 fire season was similar to the summer of 2013, during which 348 fires burned 43,078 acres on lands protected by the Southwest Oregon District. Lightning-caused fires that year burned more than 42,000 acres.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, contact the unit office in your area:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. Phone: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Drive, Grants Pass. Phone: (541) 474-3152

Monday, October 13, 2014

Latest Pocket Card and Fire Stats

Fire danger continues in Moderate until we have a change in weather. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please visit SWO Fire Data.

Monday, October 6, 2014

New Pocket Card and Fire Stats Posted

With unseasonably warm and dry weather SWO District will remain in moderate fire danger. Warm weather is expected to persist over the area for the forecast period. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please visit the SWO Fire Data website. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Updated Pocket Card and Fire Stats

With last week’s considerable rain and precipitation in the forecast fire danger has dropped to moderate over SWO District and IFPL 1. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please go to SWO Fire Data

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rain Reduces Fire Danger Level

[ Update Sept. 26 5:54 p.m.: The public regulated use fire danger level has been lowered to "Moderate" (blue) for at least the next few days. This applies to ODF-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties. ]

Cool and wet weather across southwest Oregon reduced wildfire danger on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District. The public regulated use fire danger level dropped to “high” (yellow) today. Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) 1 (one) also took effect this morning.

All restrictions on power equipment use by the public have been suspended. The restrictions on campfire use outside of designated campgrounds and driving motorized vehicles off improved roads have also been suspended. However, pile burning and burn barrel use will not be allowed. Fire season remains in effect in southwest Oregon.

Fire prevention regulations may change in a few days if dry weather conditions return.

These regulations affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The following public fire prevention regulations remain in effect:
  • No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels;
  • No fireworks use on forestlands;
  • Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited;
  • Smoking while traveling is allowed only in enclosed vehicles on improved roads;
  • Electric fence controllers must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be installed and used in compliance with the fence controller’s instructions for fire safe operation.
Under IFPL 1:
  • Loggers and other industrial operators must have fire suppression tools at the job site;
  • Watchman service must be provided.
Information about fire season restrictions on ODF-protected lands is available at ODF Southwest Oregon District unit offices:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr: (541) 474-3152

Rain Cools Onion Mountain Fire

Fire at a Glance

Location: 15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon

Size: 4,123 acres

Containment: 80%

Assigned personnel: 533
  • 2 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 2 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 1 Light-lift helicopter
  • 1 Fixed-wing air management aircraft

With the coming of strong pre-frontal southwestern winds on Tuesday, a portion of the fire near Taylor Creek Falls heated up, and as a precaution firefighters utilized bucket drops from heavy-lift helicopters to cool off the area. Most equipment was pulled off of the northeastern flank of the fire as containment was achieved in that area. Dozer lines along the eastern edge were fully water-barred and repaired. The final MIST tank was removed by helicopter on Tuesday.

Crews have been working feverishly to finish critical water bars before the rains hit in order to minimize the erosional impacts of the firelines. Resource advisors were pleased this morning that all lines had been “tucked in” and ready for rain. Still, with the amount of rain predicted, there are concerns that slides may occur.

Plans for today will remain flexible as crews watch to ensure that they are able to work safely in wet, muddy, windy conditions. One of the primary concerns within the fire area is the frequent and sudden falling of fire-weakened snags and trees as the wind blows and the soil becomes saturated.

Winds will be from the southwest gusting to 25 mph today, bringing up to 1.5 inches of rain over the fire area by noon. Clouds will likely remain through Thursday. Some clearing and minor warming is expected Friday through Sunday.

The number of firefighters, aircraft, and other firefighting equipment continues to decline as crews demobilize and return home or are reassigned to other fires. 

Oregon Incident Management Team #1 is preparing to return management of the fire back to the Wild Rivers District on Friday morning. The District has assembled a Type 3 team numbering nearly 150 firefighters to complete fire suppression activities.

The local Blue-grass band Sequoia expressed their appreciation to firefighters by donating their time and talent to entertain fire crews during dinner on Tuesday night.

Closures: Sam Brown Campground and Horse Camp, Briggs Campground, Myers Campground, Portions of Forest Roads 2500, 2509, and 2706. See the forest website for specific information.
For further information, call (541) 471-7441, send an e-mail, or visit the Josephine County Emergency Preparedness page on Facebook, or the Onion Mountain Fire's pages on InciWeb.