Friday, May 3, 2013

Use Care When Burning Debris

Nearly two weeks of above-average temperatures and zero rain has left much of the Rogue Valley bone dry. Firefighters from the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District and most of the rural fire protection districts have extinguished escaped burn pile fires almost every day in that period of time.

Before burning, call the air quality opening burning advisory line for your county to find out whether opening burning is permitted on that day.
  • Jackson County: (541) 776-7007
  • Josephine County: (541) 476-9663
Also, if your structural fire protection district requires a burning permit, get one before striking the match.

Check the weather. If the temperature is 80 or above, strongly consider burning on a cooler day. If strong or gusty winds are in the forecast, don't burn.

Have water readily available at your burn pile site. Test hoses to make sure they work, and add enough hose to stretch at least 50 feet beyond your pile site. And keep a shovel close by.

Never leave a flaming burn pile unattended. Ever. Not even for a minute.

It's best to burn early in the day, and always complete the burning project before nightfall. Use water and a shovel to soak down remaining embers, and stir them with wet dirt to completely extinguish every last spark. Check the burned area the next day to make sure no smoking debris is left.

If your burn pile fire escapes your control, call 9-1-1 immediately.

We need your help to Keep Oregon Green.

Wildfire Awareness Week Begins This Weekend

Wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes: Thoughtful planning can minimize the impact whenever these natural disasters occur. And in the case of wildfires, homeowners often can avert damage entirely by following some basic steps to protect their home and property.

During Oregon Wildfire Awareness Week May 5-11, fire protection agencies will be sending that message to Oregonians most at risk from wildfire - those who dwell in the wildland-urban interface. It’s not just for the few of us that live deep in the forest. People at risk from wildfire are also those in suburban subdivisions located near a stand of timber.

Ashland residents are encouraged to take advantage of the second annual Firewise Clean-Up Day on May 5.

Landscaping can beautify a home and also reduce the fire threat. There are two key things to remember: spacing, and species. Planting trees and shrubs with enough distance between them can hinder a wildfire from burning through the vegetation and reaching the home. Once planted, the trees and shrubs must be maintained by periodic trimming and pruning. A well-watered lawn mowed short also strengthens the barrier to fire.

Some shrubs, in addition to being attractive, also resist fire. Oregon State University Extension publishes “Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes” available free at Oregon State University Extension Service offices, and Oregon Dept. of Forestry unit offices. These plants can be damaged or even killed by fire. But their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and, therefore, the fire’s intensity. Fire-resistant plant species must be watered and kept trimmed to maximize the buffer effect against a wildfire. Many have the advantage of requiring less care than common ornamentals.

In preparing for the arrival of warm, dry weather, the most important thing is to get into the fire season mode. From late spring through early fall, Oregonians live in a wildfire environment. Whenever we work or play in the outdoors during this time, fire safety must be foremost in our minds.
“Fire was here first and will always be a part of Oregon’s forested landscape,” Oregon State Forester Doug Decker said. “For property owners on the forest fringe, some planning ahead now—and a weekend of outdoor work this spring—can make a difference when we get into the heart of fire season and high fire danger this summer. You can give our firefighters an extra edge by being wildfire aware and ready yourselves.”

For helpful tips on wildfire safety at home and in the forest, visit the Keep Oregon Green Association website. Another resource is the Firewise Toolkit.

This year the governors of Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Idaho signed a joint proclamation declaring Wildfire Awareness Week. 

Grayback Road Temporarily Closed for Repair

Beginning on May 6, a seven-mile portion of the Grayback Road (Forest Service Road 4611) will be closed for culvert replacement.   The closure area starts at FSR 4611 at its junction with State Highway 46 and ends at the junction of FSR 4611 with FSR 4611070, from milepost 0.0 to milepost 7.2.  The junction of FSR 4611 with State Highway 46 is approximately 12 miles east of Cave Junction on State Highway 46, just past the Grayback Campground.

Two detour routes provide the best options for going around the closure:
  • Detour Option #1: Continue 2 miles on State Highway 46 past the 4611 junction to the 4613 junction, take FSR 4613 6.9 miles to its junction with FSR 4611070, and continue 3.3 miles on the 4611070 until it reconnects with the 4611 above the closure.
  • Detour Option #2:  Continue on State Highway 46 past the 4611 junction approximately 7 miles to the 4611960 junction, take the 4611960 road 2.9 miles to its junction with FSR 4611070, and continue on the 4611070 3.4 miles until it reconnects with the 4611 above the closure. 
Although FSR 4611 road does not access any forest recreation sites, it is a potential route from Williams to Cave Junction.  It is unknown at this time how long the closure will remain in effect due to the unpredictability of weather and associated construction delays; however, it is anticipated the road will be open by late July.