Friday, April 26, 2013

Hot Weather Increases Wildfire Risk

Spring has sprung in southwest Oregon and early season wildfires are popping up. Several days with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s have dried old grasses, weeds and fallen tree branches to the point that vegetation fires are starting easily. Residents are asked to use extra caution with fire, particularly when burning debris piles and using burn barrels.

Fire season on the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District, which protects 1.8 million acres of private, state, county and Bureau of Land Management wildlands in Jackson and Josephine counties, typically starts in June. However, during a year when spring is dry and warm, fire season has begun in May. If the weather remains warm and dry, it is possible that fire season will start earlier than normal.

This week, a 10-acre fire burned in the woods west of Rogue River, a 6-acre fire burned in a forested area east of Prospect, and several other small fires have broken out in both Jackson and Josephine counties. No homes were threatened by the fires, but the blazes illustrated how easily wildfires are starting and spreading during this warm spell.

Residents doing any pile burning are encouraged to closely monitor weather forecasts, and to postpone burning when gusty winds are predicted. Have a garden hose or other water source at the burn site, and keep a shovel close at hand. Monitor the burning debris pile at all times, burn early in the day and have the burn pile completely extinguished by nightfall.

Also, it is necessary to call the county burn line prior to burning to find out whether burning is allowed on a given day. The phone number in Jackson County is (541) 776-7007, and (541) 476-9663 in Josephine County. It is also necessary to have a burning permit, if required, from your structural fire protection district.

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

Monday, April 8, 2013

State Forests' Conservation Area Public Comment Period Extended


The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) announced last week that the public comment period for a draft rule concerning “conservation areas” on the State Forests has been extended to 5 p.m. on April 19. The classification would highlight areas that are already being managed for conservation values in the strategies set forth in currently approved forest management plans. The comment period was originally scheduled to run through April 5.
 
“We made the decision to extend opportunity for comment based on feedback we received from the public,” the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Mike Bordelon said. “They asked for more time to review the draft rule and submit their comments.”
 
The proposed administrative rule refines language within ODF’s Forest Land Management Classification System (Oregon Administrative Rule 629-035-0055) to add the classification of “High-Value Conservation Areas” within State Forest management plans.
 
The intent is to more clearly organize and display (such as on land-use maps and in data systems) areas of state-owned forests that are currently managed with a conservation emphasis. The rule change would affirm the State Forests’ current contributions to conservation. No changes to projected timber harvest levels or designations of additional conservation areas are proposed.
 
Currently, the Forest Land Management Classification System places all state-owned forestland into one of three categories: General Stewardship, Focused Stewardship, or Special Stewardship, with subclasses assigned for the specific forest resource or uses that require a Focused Stewardship or Special Stewardship classification.

The proposed change would divide the Special Stewardship classification into 1) Special Use, and 2) High-Value Conservation Areas.

Current language places lands that are managed with a conservation emphasis into subclasses according to specific attributes -- such as wildlife habitat or aquatic/riparian habitat -- or designates lands where timber harvest would be impractical or would put natural resources at risk due to steep slopes, rocky soils, or other characteristics. Under the proposed change, these lands would be grouped in the new High-Value Conservation Area classification or the Special Use category.
 
The proposed rule revision applies to all Board of Forestry-owned lands: the Tillamook, Clatsop and Santiam State Forests in northwestern Oregon; the Gilchrist and Sun Pass State Forests east of the Cascades; and scattered small parcels throughout Oregon. The revised land classification system would also apply to the Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay, though the Elliott’s forest management plan already includes designated conservation areas as one strategy to achieve overall plan objectives. Most of the Elliott is under the jurisdiction of the State Land Board, made up of the governor, state treasurer and secretary of state. An agreement is in place under which the Oregon Department of Forestry provides management.
 
The draft rule language is available for review on the Oregon Department of Forestry web site at:  http://www.oregon.gov/odf/Pages/FLMCS-Rulemaking.aspx.
 
Written comments on the proposed amended rule are being accepted through 5 p.m. on April 19, 2013, and may be sent to ODF through several routes:
  • FAX to: 503-945-7376, Attn: John Barnes
  • REGULAR Mail to: John Barnes, Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State Street - Building D, Salem OR 97310.
The Oregon Department of Forestry manages more than 800,000 acres of forests in Oregon for the environmental, social and economic benefit of Oregonians.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Oregon's Arbor Week Starts This Weekend



Oregon’s Arbor Week takes place April 7-13 and 57 Oregon cities are slated to be recognized as Tree City USA (TCUSA) communities.

Medford's ceremony is today at the Bear Creek Park ampitheater. Helpers from the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Medford Unit and volunteers (photo above) handed out conifer seedlings to visitors. ODF's Matthew Krunglevich presented a Tree City USA banner to the City of Medford during a ceremony at the park.

Tree City USA (TCUSA), sponsored by the Oregon Department of Forestry, is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation. TCUSA recognizes cities with programs that plant, plan for and care for trees.

Three new cities earn TCUSA status


Newest additions to Oregon’s growing list of tree-friendly communities are the cities of Newport in Lincoln County; Oregon City, southeast of Portland in Clackamas County, and Independence, located southwest of Salem in Polk County. All three cities receive their first-ever awards this month, and all TCUSA communities are holding an Arbor Day event.

“Trees are important to Oregon’s quality of life, where we have some of the most productive forestland in the world, and some of the most livable cities around,” says Paul Ries, manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. Trees and forests enhance quality of life by providing wood products, fish and wildlife habitat, shade, economic benefits, clean, healthy streams, and by raising property values, adds Ries.

All Oregon TCUSA cities earn recertification In addition to the three new TCUSA cities, all Oregon “Tree Cities” earned recertification this year. They are:

Albany * Ashland  * Baker City * Bandon * Banks * Beaverton * Bend * Brownsville * Coburg *  Coos Bay * Corvallis * Cottage Grove *  Dallas * Eagle Point * Echo * Eugene * Forest Grove * Gervais *  Grants Pass *  Gresham * Happy Valley *  Hood River * Klamath Falls * La Grande *  Lake Oswego  * Lebanon *  Lincoln City * Madras *  McMinnville *  Medford *  Metolius *  Monmouth * Philomath  * Portland *  Redmond  *  Rogue River *  Salem * Sandy *  Scio *  Seaside  *  Sherwood *  Sisters *  Sunriver *  Sweet Home *  Talent * Tigard  *  Tillamook * Toledo *  Troutdale * Tualatin * Veneta * West Linn * Wilsonville.

Some cities earn Growth Awards

“Growth City” awards are presented to recognize cities for certain tree-related achievements the previous year. Growth Award Cities are:
 
Western Oregon: Tigard, Salem, Gresham, Portland, Forest Grove, Sweet Home, Medford, Lebanon, Banks Eastern Oregon: Echo, Hood River and LaGrande
 

Benchmark Cities

 
Rogue River is celebrating its 30th year as a Tree City USA. Other cities with benchmark anniversaries include Grants Pass (25 years), West Linn (20 years), Madras (20 years), along with Wilsonville (15 years), Seaside (15 years) and the City of Coburg (15 years).
 

Arbor week events


The many cities currently planning Arbor Week events with ceremonies or tree plantings include Wilsonville, Newport and Lincoln City. Check with local city government officials for details pertaining to your community.
 
Some cities will have members of Oregon Community Trees’ Board present awards this year.  The mission of Oregon Community Trees (OCT) is to promote healthy urban and community forests through leadership, education, awareness and advocacy. OCT is an important advisory group to ODF’s urban and community forestry program.
 

Tips for tree planting at home

 
For gardeners and homeowners, now is an excellent time to take stock of trees and plan for the future. Consider how planting new trees might improve the look of your property and provide wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, a visual screen, and wind or heat protection. For long-term success, remember these tree planting tips.
 
Trees that are planted too deeply are often not given their best odds for long-term survival and growth. When planting a tree, never dig the hole deeper than necessary and plant the tree with the root collar at ground level or slightly (2”) higher to allow for settling. Also remove all containers, wire, plastic and string from the trunk and roots before planting.
 
Fertilizing at the time of planting is not necessary; however, deeply water your tree after planting.
 
To learn more about Arbor Week, visit www.arborday.org//oregon/

More information about trees and tree care can be found at www.treesaregood.com.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hearing on Forest Practice Rule Changes Set for April 22 in Salem

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to administrative rules adopted under the Oregon Forest Practices Act (FPA) regarding when statutory written plans are required, and general housekeeping updates.

The primary rule change will be reflected in language for Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 629-605-0170 concerning required written plans for timber harvest operations. This rule revision is required to implement the changes to Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 527.670 associated with House Bill 2165, which was passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2011. The bill was written to increase ODF’s effectiveness and efficiency in administering the FPA.

The intent of the primary rule change is to increase resource protection by decreasing unnecessary paperwork that is currently required for administrative compliance. This gain in efficiency would afford ODF foresters more time to perform field inspections and focus on high-priority operations. The change is strictly administrative and would not alter the resource protection standards within the FPA. The general FPA housekeeping changes fix grammatical errors, update outdated rule references and establish a title for the forest practice rules. None of these housekeeping updates changes the intent or meaning of any rules.

Statutory written plans are required when an operation is proposed within 100 feet of fish-bearing or domestic-use streams, as well as certain significant wetlands. Under Oregon statute the purpose of this administratively determined distance is to identify when a written plan is required, not to describe the area to be protected. The area to be protected is the resource’s riparian management area (RMA). This protection area is determined by the water resource’s size. RMA widths range from 20 feet to 100 feet from the resource’s high water mark. If an operation enters into a RMA, then specific rules adopted by the FPA are applied and need to be communicated to a Stewardship Forester within a written plan.

OAR 629-605-0170 currently requires that a statutory written plan accompany operations proposed within the 100-foot administrative mark even if the operation will be outside the RMA. Typically these written plans minimally state that the operation will be outside of the RMA. Having this administrative requirement for these types of operations creates substantial administrative work for ODF foresters while not providing much value-added information towards resource protection. The administrative work includes sending written notice that a written plan is required, reviewing and processing the written plan, and tracking a 14-day public comment and waiting period associated with the written plan. 

The proposed rule change under OAR 629-605-0170 would allow Stewardship Foresters to waive the written plan requirement for harvest and road construction operations if the operator states at the initial notification that no physical components of the protected resource’s RMA will be directly affected. Removing this non-value-added paperwork will allow ODF foresters and administrative staff to focus on operations that will be entering the RMA or have other high resource protection priorities.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, April 22, at the Oregon Department Forestry headquarters office, Building D - Santiam Room, 2600 State St., in Salem, beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m.

The hearing location is accessible to person with disabilities. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for the person with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours prior to the meeting by calling the Department of Forestry at 503-945-7425. Public comments along with staff responses and recommendations will be provided by a consent agenda item to the Board of Forestry for review prior to final rule adoption, which is anticipated in June 2013.

These rule revisions apply to all private forest timberlands that are subject to ODF’s administration.
The draft rule language is available for review on the Oregon Department of Forestry website.

Written comments on the proposed amended rules are being accepted through April 28, 2013, and may be sent to ODF in the following ways:

EMAIL
FAX: 503-945-7490 Attn: Private Forest HB 2165 Rulemaking
STANDARD MAIL: Private Forest HB 2165 Rulemaking, Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State St. Building D, Salem, OR 97310.

The Oregon Department of Forestry works toward healthy, sustainable forests through the Board of Forestry’s strategic plan, the overarching Forestry Program for Oregon and through various means including: programs serving rural and urban Oregonians, balanced forest management, and laws that provide for environmentally sound timber harvest. All of these are based on broad public and stakeholder input, scientific research, collaboration, and the willing participation of landowners.