Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reward Offered for Cause of Four Corners Fire

The Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person, or people, who caused the Four Corners Fire. The fire started August 30 in southern Josephine County, one-half mile north of the community of Takilma. Specifically, the fire’s origin was at the junction of Waldo Rd., Takilma Rd., and Happy Camp Rd, an intersection locally known as Four Corners. The fire burned 15 acres of grass, brush and forestland and threatened homes in the area.

Anyone who has information about this fire is encouraged to call (800) 452-7888. Information is confidential.

The Four Corners Fire started at 4:10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, and cost $14,572 to extinguish. Suppression resources assigned to the fire include:
  • 7 wildfire fire engines
  • 1 bulldozer
  • 4 helicopters
  • 2 air tankers
  • 2 20-person crews
  • 2 fallers
Additionally, structural fire protection engines were sent from Illinois Valley Fire District and Rural Metro Fire Dept.

Monday, November 18, 2013

USFS/BLM Christmas Tree Permits Available Nov. 18

Whatever your holiday tradition, one that’s sure to bring a smile to your child’s face is taking a trip to the woods and cutting your own family holiday tree.

Holiday tree permits are officially available starting Monday, November 18, at Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Offices, as well as at numerous vendor locations in southwest Oregon (see vendor list at http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.) 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 a large area that includes 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 Christmas 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

Christmas 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.  Christmas 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.

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!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's Fall Color Time in Oregon

Whether you're a photographer, nature lover, or just enjoy life in the great outdoors, right now is a great time to take in the beauty of Oregon's fall colors. Hiking along a trail, driving through Oregon's back roads or enjoying your favorite city park are all good opportunities to appreciate the leaves of ash, red alder, dogwood, vine maple and other trees as they catch our eye with their brilliant colors and hues.

Good places to experience fall color

Fortunately, during these times of resource conservation and high gas prices, you don't need to travel far to enjoy fall color. Great fall color can often be found close to home, both in city parks or arboretums. If you're in the neighborhood, plan a visit to one of these destinations.

Ashland
The city's 93-acre Lithia Park located near the downtown area is the perfect place to experience fall color splendor. The one-mile Woodland Trail, part of a 100-acre National Historic Site, offers much to see or photograph in a beautiful wooded setting.

Corvallis
Oregon State University's campus features fall beauty around every corner this month. You can even find a phone app on iTunes to help you with tree identification.

Silverton
The Oregon Garden is a showcase for thousands of plants in more than twenty specialty gardens, plus water features, wetlands, a conifer garden, and the 400 year-old Signature Oak. And, while enjoying the reds and yellows of a maple or dogwood, take a minute to check out the Oregon White Oak Savannah, where fire was recently introduced to enhance habitat and rid the area of invasives.

Portland
Hoyt Arboretum has a diverse collection of more than 8,000 trees and plants from around the world. This park-like setting includes some 187 acres with 21 trails covering 12 miles. Located just two miles from downtown Portland, it's a great place to take kids. The breathtaking Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, northeast of Portland, is also an excellent place to take in the beauty of the season's colors.

Eugene / Springfield
Take a walk through the University of Oregon campus where native and non-native trees alike are showing off their fall color. Or, take a hike at Lane County's 209-acre Mount Pisgah Arboretum bordering the coast fork of the Willamette River; it’s located east of I-5 and just south of Eugene.  If you've never been there before, their annual "Mushroom Festival" on Sunday, October 27th, is a great time to visit.

Why leaves change color

"The leaves of deciduous trees change color each fall due to a combination of environmental factors," explains Paul Ries, an urban forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry. "During summer months, a leaf is green because the tree is making chlorophyll through the process of photosynthesis." Ries says that as day length wanes in the fall and temperatures cool, photosynthesis begins to shut down, revealing "the natural color pigments of the leaves" - what we know as fall colors.

A series of dry days with cool nighttime temperatures is ideal to creating beautiful fall color, so each season is a bit unique from the next. And, although abundant fall rain and wind can shorten the fall color period, Oregon usually has a long fall color viewing period.

Thinking about planting a tree this fall?


The autumn months - after leaf drop - is a great time to plant a new tree. Looking to plant something out of the ordinary? For fall color in small places, consider Paperbark maple for its brilliant, shiny scarlet leaves. For small to medium areas, take a look at Persian Parrotia which features purple, yellow, orange, and sometimes even red leaves on the same tree at the same time.  If you have a large yard or garden, Tulip tree or Scarlet oak make a great addition to the landscape.

When planting a new tree, make sure the roots are covered, but don't plant your tree too deeply; instead, set it slightly above the level of the surrounding soil to allow for settling and increased soil drainage. Also, don’t fertilize your tree after planting – wait until early spring to do this.  Do add a few inches of mulch around the base of your new tree.

All those leaves: help a neighbor in need The most environmentally-friendly way to dispose of leaves is by raking them the old-fashioned way. And don't feel compelled to have them hauled off-site, because they'll work great used as mulch around the base of your trees, plants, and planting beds where they'll add nutrients to the soil. You can also add them to your mulch pile for next year.

Lastly, while everybody loves fall color, many people do not enjoy the fall leaf drop. If there are seniors or others in your neighborhood needing a hand, get in touch and see if they can use some help raking leaves.

 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Burn Ban Lifted in N. California

CAL FIRE has lifted suspension of residential burning, effective as of 6 a.m. Friday September 27, 2013.  CAL FIRE Unit Chief Bernie Paul is formally cancelling the suspension and advises that people possessing current and valid agricultural and residential burn permits can now resume burning on permissible burn days. Safe “Residential” burning still requires a minimum of 10’ clearance around the 4x4 piles and an adult must be in attendance at all times. Agricultural burning permits will need to be inspected by a CAL FIRE or Forest Service employee prior to burning till the end of fire season.

Burn permits will still be required until the end of fire season. Fire danger is predicted to increase over the next several weeks as a hotter and drier weather system moves in over Siskiyou County. Residents must always use caution when burning, follow all guidelines and maintain control of their fire at all times.

Contact your nearest CAL FIRE facility and/ or local fire department to acquire the proper permit. Residents should call Siskiyou County Air Pollution Board at (530)842-8123 to confirm it’s a permissive burn day and the burn times.

For more information on burning, call CAL FIRE at (530)842-3516. Or visit CAL FIRE website at www.fire.ca.gov.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oregon's Forest Land Base is Stable, But Homes are Increasing

Oregon has lost almost none of its non-federal forest and farmland to other uses in the past four decades, but the number of homes scattered through forestland is increasing, according to a new report from the Oregon Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service.

The report shows that 98 percent of non-federal lands that were in farm and forest use in 1974, when Oregon’s land use planning system went into effect, remained so in 2009. However, the report did find an  increasing number of  homes in private forestland, particularly  near urban or low-density residential areas. Other research has shown that more homes in forestland decreases the chances of those lands remaining in forest uses. That, in turn, can lead to a loss of forest benefits and a rise in challenges such as fire protection.

"With an expected 37 percent population increase in Oregon over the next 30 years, this trend leads to key policy questions," said Gary Lettman, forest economist with the Oregon Department of Forestry.  "These questions range from the amount of private lands that will be converted to residential or urban use, to how those increases will affect the use and management of both public and private forestlands."

Land Use Change on Non-Federal Land in Oregon and Washington describes the changes in rates and types of land use in Oregon and Washington. Although the two states have similar climates and vegetation, they have very dissimilar land use policies – a decentralized approach in Washington, and coordinated, statewide direction in Oregon.

The Oregon Board of Forestry’s strategic plan, the Forestry Program for Oregon, lists “maintaining and increasing Oregon’s forestland base” as a key objective. Forests provide Oregonians with a multitude of economic, environmental, and social benefits. For instance, forests provide cleaner water than land in any other use. And the forest sector employs over 42,000 Oregonians and provides about $5.2 billion in yearly revenues to Oregon.

While this report specifically focuses on Oregon’s land use planning system, a suite of state and federal policies in Oregon helps forest landowners sustainably manage and retain forestlands, and makes it economically viable for them to do so. These policies include the Oregon Forest Practices Act, forestland tax deferral, and a variety of incentive programs, almost all of which are federally funded.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fire Season Ends in Douglas County

The Douglas Forest ProtectiveAssociation has officially called an end to the 2013 fire season on September 25th, at noon.  This is the earliest end to fire season on the Douglas District since 1978.  The end of the 2013 fire season was a result of significant rainfall and an overall cooling trend which returned to the area.

The 2013 fire season, which started on May 15th, was a busy one for DFPA, as they suppressed 142 fires that burned 33,119 acres in Douglas County alone this year; well up from the 10 year average of 76 fires for 644 acres.  An additional 15,297 acres from the Douglas Complex burned onto the Southwest Oregon ODF District in Josephine County, bringing the total acreage of all DFPA fires up to 49,163 acres this year.

With the end of fire season, Industrial Fire Precaution Level restrictions are no longer in effect and backyard debris burning is now allowed without a permit outside incorporated cities.  In addition, campfires are now allowed with landowner permission.  Unattended campfires, a primary cause of wildfires, still have the potential of escaping.  All fires should be fully extinguished before leaving the scene.  Residents should contact their local fire department before conducting any burning as regulations vary between fire districts. 

Fire officials advise residents to exercise caution when burning or using fire in wildland areas. This time of year, several days of sunshine and dry weather can create a fire risk even if a week or more of rainy, cool conditions precedes them. When burning yard debris, make sure to have an adequate fire trail around the pile or incinerator and never leave the burn unattended.  Should a fire escape, the property owner may be financially responsible for damages and suppression costs.  The only type of burning requiring a permit is for logging slash and heavy debris disposal burning, which is required year round.  Any type of commercial tree harvesting that requires excess debris to be burned constitutes logging slash and therefore requires a permit to burn.

The Douglas Forest Protective Association would like to thank everyone for their cooperation in helping us throughout the devastating 2013 fire season.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fire Danger Level Drops on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

In concert with the Oregon Department of Forestry’s declaration regarding the end of fire season effective today, Tuesday, September 24, 2013, the fire danger level has dropped to “low” on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest effective as of midnight last night.
 
All public use restrictions on the Wild section of the Rogue River have been rescinded, and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1 has also been dropped.
 
However, with a warming and drying trend predicted for the weekend and hunting season begun, forest visitors are reminded to be vigilant with all warming and cooking fires. Enjoy your outdoor experience and be thoughtful about your actions when it comes to fire:
  • Be prepared for any trips to the forest with a shovel and extra water for stirring and cooling your campfires, which should be cool to the back of the hand when placed directly above the fire.
  • Ensure all flammable material is cleared away before building a fire.
  • Do not build such a huge blazing campfire that it has the potential to start nearby vegetation on fire.
  • Do not leave fire unattended while you hunt or play. Make sure the fire is dead out prior to leaving your campsite.  The cool nights/warm days combination during hunting season can bring what you think is a “dead” fire back to life fairly quickly.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fire Season Ends Tuesday on ODF-Protected Lands in SW Oregon

Several days of rain across the southwest Oregon region has brought fire season to an end effective Tuesday, Sept. 24, on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties. The public regulated use fire danger level drops to “low” (green) after midnight tonight, and all public and industrial fire prevention regulations will be lifted.

It was a busy summer for firefighters across southwest Oregon. Crews responded to more than 330 fires, 126 of which were caused by lightning. More than 43,000 acres of forestland burned on the district, much of it in the Big Windy and Douglas complexes in northern Josephine County. People caused more than 200 fires this fire season, which started June 3, and human-caused fires burned nearly 800 acres. Lightning caused the summer’s biggest wildfires.

For more fire season statistics, see the district's Fire Data page.

Southwest Oregon residents are urged to use caution when burning debris this fall. Many structural fire protection districts require a permit to burn piled debris or to use burn barrels, and both counties issue daily air quality advisories. Call your county’s open burning line before burning to find out whether open burning is allowed. In Jackson County, the number to call is (541) 776-7007. In Josephine County, call (541) 476-9663.

For more information about wildland fire prevention, contact your local Oregon Dept. of Forestry unit office:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr: (541) 474-3152

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reward Offered for Arson Information in N. California

CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit and the Klamath National Forest announce the offer of up to a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who are responsible for starting the Salmon River Complex and Butler fires. Each agency is contributing $10,000 to this joint effort.

"These fires were a serious threat to private property in the Salmon River drainage, and we are tremendously lucky not to have lost any homes," commented Siskiyou Unit Chief Bernie Paul.  "We know these fires were started by human action and we want to find the person responsible."

The Salmon River Complex and Butler fires, as well as four additional fires in the area extinguished by first responders, were started between approximately 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. on July 31, 2013. Anyone with information regarding these fires is asked to contact the Arson Tip Line at 1-800-468-4408. Callers can remain anonymous.

"These fires have burned more than 37,000 acres, put local communities and firefighters at great risk, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars to fight," said Klamath Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham.  "All that for fires that never should have started in the first place."

For additional information, contact CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Monty Messenger at (530)842-3516 or Klamath Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham at (530) 841-6131.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mop-Up and Patrol Operations Continue on Big Windy Complex

A team of 100 firefighters assigned to the Big Windy Complex are continuing the long process of mopping up the perimeter of the burned area, cutting down hazardous snags (dead trees) near to roads, and rehabilitating firelines and spike camps that were created during July and August.

Cooler and potentially wet weather this weekend could prompt a reduction in staff assigned to the complex.

Today, eight engines, one bulldozer and one water tender are helping firefighters with their mop-up and patrol tasks. Three helicopters are available if needed.

The Big Windy Complex is 27,555 acres in size and is 95 percent contained.

Fire Danger Drops to High in Wild and Scenic Section of Rogue River

Shorter days, cooler temperatures and some rain have combined to reduce wildfire danger in the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River. The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects the segment of the river corridor between Grave Creek and Marial, and will lower the fire danger in this region to “high” (yellow) on Friday, Sept. 20, at 12:01 a.m.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest lowered the fire danger level yesterday in the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River downstream from Marial.

Starting tomorrow, charcoal fires for cooking may again be used by recreationists as long as the charcoal fire is contained inside of a raised fire pan. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels may be used. In all cases, these devices may only be used on sand or gravel bars that lie between the water and high water marks that are free of vegetation. Ashes from charcoal fires must be hauled out.

No open fires – including camp fires, cooking fires and warming fires -- are allowed in the Wild and Scenic of the Rogue River until the fire danger level drops further.

Additional fire prevention restrictions in the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River include:
  • No smoking while traveling, except in boats on the water, and on sand or gravel bars that lie between water and high water marks that are free of vegetation.
  • A shovel and a one-gallon or larger bucket are required of all travelers.
  • Fireworks are prohibited.
For further information about fire restrictions in the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River, contact the Smullin Visitor Center located at the Rand National Historic Site at (541) 479-3735.

For more information about wildland fire prevention regulations on state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management forestlands, contact your local Oregon Dept. of Forestry unit office:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr: (541) 474-3152

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rain Reduces Fire Danger

The public regulated use fire danger level drops to “high” (yellow) tomorrow on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine counties. Chain saws and other power-driven equipment may be used until 1:00 p.m.

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level will be 1 (one) as of 12:01 a.m. Sept. 18.

ODF’s Southwest Oregon District protects 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Below are the fire prevention regulations that go into effect tomorrow morning:
  • Debris burning is prohibited. This includes burn barrels.
  • Fireworks cannot be used in forests, public parks, campgrounds and other wildland areas.
  • Exploding targets and tracer ammunition may not be used.
  • Motorized vehicles are not allowed off of improved roads.
  • Smoking is allowed only in an enclosed vehicle on an improved road.
  • Chain saws may be used until 1:00 p.m., and users must have an axe, shovel and a fire extinguisher (8 oz. or larger) at the work site. A 1-hour fire watch is required after the saw is shut down.
  • Cutting, grinding or welding metal is allowed until 1:00 p.m. in areas that are cleared of vegetation. A water supply is required at the job site.
  • Tall, dry grass and weeds may be mowed until 1:00 p.m. Mowers used for the commercial culture or harvest of agricultural crops are exempt from this restriction.
  • Any spark-emitting power-driven equipment not specifically mentioned above must shut down by 1:00 p.m.
  • Any electric fence controller in use shall contain a listing from a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be operated in compliance with manufacturer instruction for fire safe operation.
For more information about wildland fire prevention, contact your local Oregon Dept. of Forestry unit office:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr: (541) 474-3152

Big Windy Complex Nudges Closer to Containment

Fire suppression crews stabilized the reburn in the Howard Creek drainage, located on the northeast flank of the Big Windy Complex, that started last Wednesday and burned aggressively through Friday producing heavy smoke that settled into the valleys in much of Josephine County. Additional burn-out operations increased the size of the Big Windy Complex to 27,555 acres.

The Big Windy Complex is 95 percent contained.

Bear Camp road is open but travelers are advised to drive slowly and with caution due to heavy fire suppression-related traffic in the area. Roads within the fire area remain closed.

Approximately 150 firefighters are assigned to the complex.

Lightning Scattered Across SE Jackson County

An overnight thunderstorm put down dozens of lightning strikes from the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, near the Oregon-California border, to the Jackson County-Klamath County line east of Howard Prairie Lake. A handful of strikes also came down in the Ashland Watershed area, between Wagner Butte and the West Fork of Ashland Creek. Two strikes were also recorded in Josephine County approximately 3 miles northeast of Little Grayback Peak.

Engine crews from ODF's Medford Unit are looking for a smoke on Chinquapin Mountain, 2 miles south of Hyatt Lake.

Lightning activity was significantly heavier east of the Cascade Range in Klamath County. The storm tracked as far north as Bend in central Oregon.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flare-Ups, Road Closures Continue on Douglas Complex

The warm, windy conditions over much of Southern Oregon this week haven’t stopped firefighters from making good progress on the Douglas Complex.  One hundred and fifty fire personnel remain assigned to the incident, continuing post-fire suppression activities.  The main objectives continue to be mopping up hot spots, working on rehab projects, and patrolling the fire lines.  Firefighters have also stopped several small flare ups, well within the interior of the fire.  These flare-ups have occurred in areas that didn’t burn clean.  While these flare-ups haven’t posed a threat to containment lines, fire officials are trying to minimize the loss of resources and habitat in these areas.  With these interior pockets occasionally burning, in addition to other smoldering material in the interior of the fire area, some smoke from the Douglas Complex will be visible until significant rain showers return to the area.

The BLM has extended the road closure for the general public around the Douglas Complex until the end of the month.  At that point, they will reassess the situation with the road closures.  The road closures are in effect for the safety of firefighters and the public while work continues in the fire area.  In addition to the potential for rolling rocks and falling trees in the burned area, many roads that fire trucks, water tenders, heavy equipment, and fire crews are working on are narrow, windy, and have blind corners.  The public is asked to honor these road closures and stay out of the fire area.  More information about the road closure can be found online at www.blm.gov/or/districts/roseburg/newsroom/index.php or by calling the Roseburg BLM at (541) 440-4930, or the Medford BLM at (541) 471-6500.

Weather Change May Help Big Windy Complex Crews

Smoke will drift from the Big Windy Complex as an area along the north/northeast flank that flared up Wednesday continues to burn out. Helicopters hauled buckets of water into the Howard Creek drainage to cool down hotspots. Further helicopter activity in the same area is expected to take place today and through Saturday.

More than 120 firefighters are assigned to the Big Windy Complex today and will work on the 25,775-acre burned area throughout the weekend. Their primary tasks are to mop up around the perimeter of the fire, burn out unburned islands of vegetation inside the fireline, and monitor the interior of the burned area for flare-ups.

By late Saturday, a weather change is expected that will shift the wind pattern, bring a chance of showers, cooler temperatures and higher humidity. The prevailing air flow this past week has been from the north; starting late Saturday, the air flow will be from the west and the temperature in the Big Windy Complex area will drop into the 70s. There is a chance for thunderstorm activity on Sunday.

The Big Windy Complex is 90 percent contained.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Illinois River Road Re-Opens

The Illinois River Road (FS 4103) re-opened Wednesday, Sept. 11.  An ongoing assessment by fire operations personnel has shown the Labrador Creek Fire to display minimal fire activity. Although the fire has no containment lines around it, fire behavior has moderated sufficiently to allow public access to this popular recreation area.
 
The Labrador Creek Fire area is currently showing just a few isolated interior smokes. However, fire danger is expected to remain “Extreme” through the weekend; we advise anyone visiting the area to be cautious.  A small staff of firefighters and equipment will continue to patrol the area this weekend and beyond to keep a watch on fire behavior.
 
“We don’t anticipate the fire behavior to change significantly, but we will be prepared to take action if it does,” said Acting District Ranger Kevin Johnson.
 
Numerous standing dead trees with potentially weakened root systems remain within the fire area.  Again, taking appropriate cautionary measures, such as avoiding walking through areas with many standing weakened trees, is advised.
 
Personal Use Restrictions remain in effect on the forest. For a copy of the news release (August 28, 2013), posted closure order and Exhibit A, which lists the campgrounds where fires are allowed in designated fire rings, visit our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.    Click on “News and Events” and “Alerts and Notices” to locate the above information.

Crews Monitor Flare-Up Inside Big Windy

More than 120 firefighters assigned to the Big Windy Complex continue the task of mopping up around the perimeter of the fire, burning out unburned islands of vegetation, and monitoring the interior of the burned area for flare-ups. A 20-acre flare-up Wednesday afternoon burned deep in the canyon where Howard Creek and Anna Creek converge. The flare-up pumped heavy smoke into northern Josephine County.

Contrary to earlier reports, yesterday's flare-up was not caused by burnout operations on the fire's west/southwest side.

Today, crews will monitor the flare-up and, if necessary, send helicopters with buckets in to cool down hotspots. Most of the flare-up occurred in an area where it is unsafe to send fire crews into. Using helicopters is the most effective way to contain flare-ups in the deep, remote canyons within the Big Windy Complex.

A series of infrared images were taken of the Big Windy Complex and the size of the burned area was revised to 25,775 acres. The complex is 90 percent contained.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Spotfire on the Big Windy Complex Puts Up A Lot of Smoke

A 15-acre spotfire along the north flank of the Big Windy Complex is putting up a lot of smoke today. The spotfire is in the the Anna Creek drainage, located on the north/northeast flank of the 24,253-acre wildfire complex that has been burning since late July.

The spotfire was not caused by burn-out operations that have been taking place during the past couple of days on the fire's west/southwest flank.

The spotfire is down in a deep, steep canyon that does not have a fireline. The area is too dangerous for crews to work in. However, most of the forest around the area in which the spotfire is burning was burned weeks ago.

Aircraft -- helicopters and an air tanker -- are dropping water and retardant on the spotfire to slow its advance.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Burnouts Put Up Smoke on Big Windy Fire

Fire crews working on the Big Windy Fire will be burning out on the west side of the fire today. There are some large unburned areas inside of the fireline that could flare up on their own during the hot days ahead. By burning them in a controlled manner, the risk of having a large flare-up later in the month will be reduced.

Approximately 150 personnel are assigned to the Big Windy Complex today, working on burn-out operations, mopping up and rehabilitating burned areas. The fire crews have ten engines, seven bulldozers, four helicopters and three water tenders available for immediate use. Burned area rehabilitation crews have several excavators, chippers and log loaders assigned to their projects.

The fire's size, 24,253 acres, remains unchanged, as does the level of containment, 87 percent. Bear Camp Road is open but all side roads in the fire area remain closed.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Few Fires Found From Thursday's Thunderstorms

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Medford Unit found four small fires (less than a tenth of an acre) following Thursday's thunderstorms. No lightning-caused fires have been found on ODF's Grants Pass Unit.

A reconnaissance flight is scheduled for later today, after the clouds lift from the ridgetops, to search for sleepers.

Rain fell across most of both Jackson and Josephine counties during the storms, but rainfall amounts varied widely.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Josephine County Forestland-Urban Interface Classification Committee Meets Sept. 13

The Josephine County Forestland-Urban Interface Classification Committee meets Friday, Sept. 13, 1:00 p.m., at Grants Pass Fire-Rescue, Parkway Station, 800 East Park St., Grants Pass. The committee will continue its review of forestland-urban interface areas in Josephine County. Once the committee’s review is complete, it will present its proposed findings at a public hearing.

The committee focuses on developed urban and suburban lands that are in areas where potentially destructive wildfires are likely to occur, and where there is a structural density of at least four dwellings per 40 acres. Owners of these lands are required to reduce potentially flammable vegetation around structures and along driveways.

The forestland-urban interface identification and classification process is described in the Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act, ORS 477.015-477.061.

To ensure the broadest range of services to individuals with disabilities, persons requiring special arrangements should call (541) 664-3328 at least two working days in advance.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bear Camp Road Reopened

[ Updated 11:45 a.m. ]

Bear Camp Road (BLM # 34-8-36 and Forest Service #23) reopened yesterday morning, but all BLM roads off the Bear Camp Road remain closed. Should fire activity on the Big Windy Complex increase in the future, there is the possibility the closure will be implemented again.

The following roads will remain closed until further notice:
  • Grave Creek to Marial Back Country Byway, which includesMt. Reuben Road (34-8-1 Road), 32-8-31 Road, a portion of the 32-8-9.2 Road, and the Marial Access Road (32-9-14.2).
  • Burnt Ridge Road, Forest Service Road 2308, is closed from the junction with Forest Road 23 to the junction with Forest Road 33.
Please use caution when driving on Bear Camp Road. Heavy equipment and other fire-related traffic is using the road and drivers are asked to drive slowly.

Camping is allowed on the north side of the Rogue River from Montgomery Creek to Quail Creek. Camping remains closed on the south side of the river in this same area.

The Big Windy Complex has burned 24,253 acres and is 87 percent contained. Management of the complex has been returned to the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District.

Nearly 90 firefighters are assigned to the fire today, and they have 10 engines, three water tenders and two bulldozers available for use as necessary.

A separate contingent of workers is assigned to the Big Windy Complex to continue burned-area rehabilitation projects. Seven bulldozers, two excavators and other heavy equipment, such as log loaders, are working in the fire area.

Douglas Complex Contained

The Douglas Forest ProtectiveAssociation declared the Douglas Complex Fires 100 percent contained yesterday, Sept. 3.  The Type 3 Incident Command Team, led by DFPA, will remain in place to continue mop up operations, work on rehab projects, and patrol the fire lines.  One hundred and sixty-two firefighters remain assigned to the incident to complete these objectives. 
Despite the incident being fully contained, smoke from the interior of the fire will be visible until fall rains return and extinguish them.

The public is reminded that the Bureau of Land Management road closures around the Douglas Complex Fires remain in effect until September 10th.  At that time, the BLM will reassess the road closures and make adjustments as needed.  The road closures are in effect to provide safety to both firefighters and the general public while work continues in the area.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bear Camp and Burnt Ridge Road Closures Continue

Due to continued fire danger and fire traffic associated with the Big Windy Complex, the Bear Camp and Burnt Ridge Roads will remain closed to public use through September 30, 2013:
  • The Bear Camp Road (FS Road 2300), and all spur roads that lead off it, remains closed from the Forest boundary to its terminus at the junction with Forest Service Road 3300 (Agness Road).
  • Burnt Ridge Road (FS Road 2308) remains closed from the junction with FS Road 2300 to the junction with FS Road 3300 (Agness Road).
“We regret limiting public access to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the Rogue River. However, we must keep public health and safety our priority during this very active fire season. Although the fire activity may be minimal after rain, there is still plenty of potential for active fire behavior as soon as temperatures rise and weather conditions change,” said Deputy Forest Supervisor Tracy Tophooven.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rain = Change in Public Use Closures: 11am - 8pm shutdown

Rains that dampened the forests floors in Jackson and Josephine Counties have caused the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to keep the Fire Danger Level at Extreme, but now with an 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. shutdown for some operations.

The following public use restriction changes will be in effect starting Sunday, Aug. 25:
  • Chain saws may not be used between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. During other hours, users must have an ax, shovel and fire extinguisher on-site, and provide a one-hour fire watch after using the saw.
  • The mowing or cutting of dead or dry grass with power-driven equipment will not be allowed between 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. This restriction does not include the mowing of green lawns, or when equipment is used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
  • Cutting, grinding or welding metal will not be allowed between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. During other hours, a water supply must be present at the work site and work may proceed only in a cleared area.
  • Any other spark-emitting machinery may not be used between 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. This includes, but is not limited to, generators, firewood splitters and chippers. During other hours, this equipment should be used only in a cleared area, and have a water supply and shovel close at hand.
  • Tracer ammunition and exploding targets may not be used in wildland areas.
The following public use restrictions remain in effect:
  • All open burning of debris is prohibited. This includes burn barrels.
  • Fireworks are prohibited on forestlands.
  • Camp fires are allowed only in designated campgrounds. This restriction includes charcoal-fired barbecues; however, stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed in other locations.
  • Vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, are not allowed on unimproved roads. This restriction does not include vehicles used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
  • Smoking is allowed only in a vehicle and only while on an improved road.
  • Any electric fence controller in use shall contain a listing from a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be operated in compliance with manufacturer instruction for firesafe operation.
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

Effective 8/25/13: Industrial Fire Precaution Level II

A recent storm brought rain to the valley floors in Josephine and Jackson Counties and has caused the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to lower the Industrial Fire Precaution Level to a Level 2 (two) effective Sunday, August 25, 2013. The following restrictions are in place:
·        The use of fire in any form will be prohibited
·        The use of power saws will be prohibited, except at loading sites, between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
·        The use of cable yarders will be prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
·        Blasting will be prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
·        Welding or cutting of metal will be prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Additionally, commercial operators on forestlands are required to have fire suppression equipment on site and provide watchman service.

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

 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Who to Contact For Douglas Complex Information

Starting Monday evening, management of the Douglas Complex will be returned to the Douglas Forest Protective Association. Eighteen crews and 21 engines will remain to finish mopping up the perimeter of the fires. At night, engines will patrol the perimeter. Helicopters and additional fire suppression resources will be available from the Douglas Forest Protective Association and the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Grants Pass Unit.

The Douglas Complex’s incident command post at the Glendale High School will disappear in a few days. All the tents and trailers will get packed up – along with the telephones.

For information about the Rabbit Mountain or Dad’s Creek fires, call the Douglas Forest Protective Association at:

(541) 672-0379 (recorded fire information)
(541) 672-6507 (office, M-F 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

For detailed information about the road closures in the Douglas Complex area in Douglas County, contact the BLM district office in Roseburg at 541-440-4930.

For road closure information on the Josephine County side of the Douglas Complex, call the BLM’s Grants Pass office at 541-471-6500.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Big Windy Complex Fire Update 8/23/13

Yesterday’s Fire Operations:  The Big Windy Complex received approximately 1/10” of rain yesterday morning when thunderstorms moved over the fire area.  Due to the wetting from the light rain no burnout could be accomplished.  One new lightning start, the Rafters Fire, was spotted and reported by rafters floating the Rogue River.  The Rogue River Hotshots located the fire and contained it.  Additional firefighters, engines, and aircraft assigned to the fire were deployed to assist local agencies as they attacked numerous new starts from the lightning storms.  These resources will return to the Big Windy as initial attack activity subsides and the fuels dry enough for burnout operations to be re-initiated.

Today’s Fire Operations:  Fire behavior is expected to be minimal today.  It is likely to take at least two days of warm, dry conditions to enable fire crews to continue the burnout operations on the northeast and western flanks.  Smoke may linger in the low lying areas.
Weather:  There should be smoke and fog in low areas early today with the inversion lifting between noon and 2 pm.  Expect mid and high level clouds with temperatures in the valley to peak at 80–85 degrees and no more than 73 on the ridges.  Winds will be light.
Evacuations: A Level 2 evacuation is in place north of the Rogue River and south of the Marial Byway.  Residents should be prepared to leave if asked.   A Level 1 evacuation is in effect in the Galice area and west where hazards from the approaching fire may be severe.  Residents should take precautionary measures to protect persons with special needs, pets, livestock, and mobile property.
Closures:
·       Grave Creek to Marial Back Country Byway, which includes Mt. Reuben Road (34-8-1 Road), 32-8-31 Road, a portion of the 32-8-9.2 Road, and the Marial Access Road (32-9-14.2).

·       Bear Camp Road (BLM # 34-8-36 and Forest Service #23) is officially closed.  See websites above for additional information. The National Guard is providing staffing at all road closure checkpoints.

·       Burnt Ridge Road, Forest Service Road 2308, is closed from the junction with Forest Road 23 to the junction with Forest Road 33.

·       Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch.
 
 
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[Oringinally posted by Big Windy Complex Information, 8/23/13]

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Josephine & Jackson County - Today's Lightning Caused Fires

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District tallied about 16 fires from today’s thunderstorms. Josephine County accounted for 10 of those confirmed fires, most of which were a tenth of an acre or smaller and were considered lined with firefighters continuing mop up as the evening progresses. One 3-acre fire near Williams out by Nine Mile Creek on U.S. Forest Service lands is currently staffed with four twenty person crews, four engines and a helicopter was doing bucket work throughout the day in order to build a wet line around the fire’s perimeter.

Jackson County also experienced scattered lightning throughout and accounted for six of the confirmed fires. These lightning caused fires that strew across the County ranging from a tenth of an acre fire outside of  the Butte Falls, Willow Lake area to a tenth of an acre fire up Keno Access Road East of Howard Prairie Lake. The largest fire in Jackson County was reported at a quarter of an acre and was located up Shale City Road off Dead Indian Memorial Highway.
Most of the fires were smaller than one-quarter acre and all are currently staffed.  Firefighters will be working on containing those that are not already considered contained through this evening.  

More thunderstorms are expected in Jackson and Josephine counties this evening and through tomorrow.

Illinois River Road to Remain Closed

The Illinois River Road (Forest Road #4103) is expected to remain closed for an extended period due to concerns for firefighter and public safety in the area of the Labrador Fire.   The closure will periodically be reassessed based on current and expected fire conditions with the highest regard for safety. 

“The Forest Service recognizes that the closure of this popular road has consequences for the public and local businesses.   We appreciate your cooperation and patience during the closure, allowing safety to remain our number one priority,” said Acting District Ranger James Simino.

Although currently exhibiting minimal activity due to sparse vegetation and moderate fire weather, the Labrador Fire has no containment lines around it.  The potential to grow rapidly remains, given the right weather conditions such as strong, sustained winds. 

An analysis conducted by an U.S. Forest Service Long-Term Fire Assessment Team indicated the Labrador Fire could demonstrate significant, periodic growth until a season - ending rain event occurs.  It is essential that the narrow forest road provide a rapid, safe access route for both firefighters and residents living within the closure area.
For more information on the Labrador Fire call (541) 864-9282 or visit http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3563/.  Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest information is available at www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.

[Originally posted by Virginia Gibbons]

Archery hunters note: Fire conditions are severe

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry issued this news release today.

Archery hunters note: Fire conditions are severe

August 22, 2013
Contact: Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425, rnichols@odf.state.or.us

From the first crunching step, bowhunters will know just how dry conditions are in Oregon’s forests. This summer, nearly 70,000 acres have burned in wildfires - six times the average at this point in the year. For this reason, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is asking early-season hunters to exercise extreme caution as they head afield this month.

This summer the largest wildfires have been caused by lightning, not people. But firefighting resources throughout Oregon and the West are stretched as tight as a bowstring. Any additional fires, regardless of cause, could place added strain on ODF and its sister fire protection agencies.  

When the forest is so very dry, a wildfire can do long-term damage, actually sterilizing the soil. As a result wildlife habitat is devastated, and game populations may take years to recover.

Fire safety restrictions are tight on public and private lands. Activities that could cause wildfires – campfires and warming fires, off-road motorized vehicle use and smoking are restricted or prohibited, depending on the location.

Hunters are advised to check the current rules right before heading afield, since fire restrictions are subject to change on short notice under such volatile conditions. Oregon’s hunters are traditionally among the most conscientious users of the forests. In this severe fire season, ODF asks them to take extra care to ensure that the 2013 hunt leaves the habitat on which game animals depend intact.

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[Originally posted by Rod Nichols Oregon Dept. of Forestry]

SW Oregon Firefighters Gear up for Thunderstorms

Oregon Dept. of Forestry firefighters in Jackson and Josephine counties are continuing to gear up for the predicted storms through this week. Although small amounts of moisture are expected with several of the storms, firefighters remain on extreme alert.

Oregon Department of Forestry’s Lighting tracking software confirms small clusters of lightning located in the Upper Applegate and Willow Lake areas from last night and this morning. Currently an ODF reconnaissance aircraft is in the air searching for smokes caused by confirmed lightning strikes that have made contact with the ground.      

The only fire that was on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands was a tenth-acre fire near Butte Falls, 1 mile southwest of Big Butte Springs. Medford Unit engine crews distinguished the fire yesterday evening.

The fire danger level on all forestlands in southwest Oregon remains extreme, and thunderstorms are expected across the region through tomorrow.