FIRE RESTRICTIONS: Fire Season terminated October 16, 2017. Regulated Closure terminated October 3.
MH1 and MH4 IFPL: IFPL Terminated as of October 16, 2017.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Stewardship Forester Elden Ward Retires

Elden Ward with his badge mounted on his retirement plaque.


Elden Ward has been a Stewardship Forester for the Prineville Unit of the Central Oregon District for nearly fifteen years.  Elden retired today, and stated his only regret was "Not coming to work for ODF sooner".  Elden will be missed by his "ODF Family" and the landowners he helped each day.

Kristin Dodd (Prineville Unit Forester) with Elden.
Fly fishing tops Elden's plans for retirement, but he also mentioned "doing some forestry stuff".  So it is likely we will see him around!





Wildfire suppression in Maury Mountains following prescribed burn

CENTRAL OREGON— Crews in the Maury Mountains are engaged in a fire suppression effort today after a wind event yesterday afternoon pushed a prescribed burn outside planned containment lines.

The Ochoco National Forest had been conducting a prescribed burn to improve the natural resources within a 333-acre unit near Elkhorn campground and Forest Road 16.
 
Around 4 pm yesterday, an unexpected reversal of wind direction associated with a storm system from the south pushed fire north of the burn unit and carried it onto private ranch lands. Firefighters are working with the private land owners, Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Post-Paulina Rangeland Protection Association to suppress the fire on both public and private land.
 
The fire size is currently about 1,200 acres with an estimated containment of 20 percent. Roughly 150 acres is on private land.
 
Following a report of the prescribed burn moving outside planned lines, the Forest Service declared it a wildfire and responded with aggressive suppression tactics. Firefighters worked until 4 am this morning with an effort that included two heavy air tankers, two single engine air tankers, a Type 1 helicopter, and multiple crews, engines, and dozers.
 
The suppression effort continues today with special emphasis on stopping the fire’s spread across private ground.
 
The Forest Service plans to implement an area closure on National Forest System lands to protect hunters and other visitors from entering the suppression area. The closure order and updated fire information will be released as soon as they are available.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fire danger remains HIGH throughout central Oregon

Cooler temperatures and shorter days mark the on-set of fall throughout central Oregon, however the change of the seasons isn’t an indicator of fire danger.  Fire danger remains HIGH throughout ODF’s Central Oregon District (COD).  The fire risk is primarily due to the lack of measurable precipitation throughout central Oregon for the past several months.  The limited moisture has kept fuel conditions dry, especially in the medium and large fuels.  Finer fuels such as grass are affected by the unstable weather patterns and can vary throughout the day.  Wind can quickly dry these fuels even after good humidity recovery from the previous night. 

Because fire danger remains high, so do the restrictions which are in place on private lands, to limit ignitions from human activities.  Firefighters from COD have responded to sixty-nine human caused fires so far this year, up from the ten-year average of fifty-seven.  In addition to these fires on ODF protected lands, COD resources have assisted federal and rural fire department partners on numerous human caused fires. 

Know Before You Go.  As you plan your activities always check to see what restrictions are in place and whose jurisdiction you are under, whether you are on public land or private land. COD remains in a Regulated Use Closure intended to reduce human caused fires.  Fire managers continue to monitor weather and fuel moisture conditions to determine what restrictions are appropriate.  A little precipitation won’t be enough to eliminate the overall fire risk, especially when warmer and dryer conditions are forecasted.

MH-1 and MH-4 areas in The Dalles Unit remain at Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 which requires a three hour fire watch following industrial operations as well as restrictions on timing of activities such as powersaw use and cable yarding systems.

Remember, debris burning is currently not allowed on lands protected by the Central Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry.  Contact information for your local ODF Office can be found on ODF’s Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Visit centralorfireinfo.blogspot.com/, www.fs.usda.gov/mthood or www.fs.usda.gov/malheur  for updates and changes to restrictions on public lands in central Oregon.

Please report fires to your local 911 dispatch center.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ground-Breaking Event to be held for new Interagency Dispatch Center

     Media Alert
September 15, 2016
 
Contacts:  Heather Cassaro, City of Redmond Communications Manager, 541-504-3031
                   Kassidy Kern, Deschutes National Forest Public Affairs, 541-383-5517 

On Monday, September 19, 2016 the City of Redmond, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Forestry will host a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center (COIDC) with the contractor for the project, Griffin Construction.
 
The event will be held at 2 p.m. at the building site, which is located adjacent to Redmond Air Center, 1740 SE Ochoco Way, in Redmond.  The event will include brief remarks from the City of Redmond, the land management agencies and Griffin Construction followed by the ceremonial breaking of the ground at the site. The building is expected to be completed by next May.  Griffin Construction operates out of Prineville, Oregon. 

Background
The Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center (COIDC) provides dispatch support and coordination for all-risk incidents for the Oregon Department of Forestry, BLM Prineville District, the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Crooked River National Grassland.   
 
Currently these dispatch services are located at the Prineville Airport. The move of COIDC from the Prineville Airport to the Redmond Air Center will improve the efficiency and safety of fire mobilization operations. 
Dispatchers will be able to see the equipment, airplanes and helicopters they are dispatching and pilots will have greater accessibility to the dispatchers.  In addition, the expanded facilities will allow more people to work within the dispatch center during the height of the fire season. 
Currently, eight employees work year-round at the facility, but during the summer approximately 30 people operate out of COIDC with an additional 25 to 30 employees working out of other offices to meet the logistical needs of fire crews, smokejumpers, helicopters, air tankers, water tenders, engines and fire teams.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Board of Forestry announces new Oregon State Forester

Pictured:  Tom Imeson (Oregon Board of Forestry Chair), Peter Daugherty (new Oregon State Forester), Doug Decker (retiring Oregon State Forester)
Contact:
Ken Armstrong, Salem, ken.w.armstrong@oregon.gov, 503-945-7420

SALEM – The Oregon Board of Forestry today unanimously selected Peter Daugherty as the next State Forester, concluding a process that began in early May when current State Forester Doug Decker announced plans to retire in October at the end of the current fire season. The Board announced the selection following an executive session to discuss the final two candidates, which also included ODF Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata.

“The Board is excited to announce Peter Daugherty as the Oregon’s new State Forester,” said Board Chair Tom Imeson. “Peter brings a wealth of experience, energy and credibility to this critical position.”

Daugherty currently serves as ODF’s Chief of the Private Forests Division. He takes over as the 13th State Forester since the agency’s creation in 1911.

“I’m looking forward to the privilege of working with the outstanding personnel of this agency, as well as with the dedicated stakeholders and all Oregonians who care about our forest resources,” said Daugherty. “There are many opportunities, as well as challenges facing us as we hold ourselves to a high standard of forest stewardship, and I am committed to our continuous improvement.”

The selection process included interviews with the Board, a public stakeholders group and an internal employee group, as well as meetings with the Governor. The Board sought public input on the recruitment plan and desired attributes in late June.

The Board of Forestry consists of seven citizens nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. Responsibilities include appointing the State Forester, setting management direction for state-owned forests, adopting rules governing timber harvest and other practices on private forestland, and promoting sustainable management of Oregon’s 30 million-acre forestland base. More information on the Board is available at: www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/AboutBOF.aspx

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Drought Stress Affecting Trees in Parts of Wasco County

It’s unusual for evergreen trees to turn color in August, or any time of year for that matter, but that’s what we are experiencing in parts of Wasco County.

Over the past three years much of Oregon has experienced abnormal levels of water stress and higher than average temperatures.  This has resulted in greater tree stress and weaker defensive mechanisms to resist bark beetles.  While tree mortality from bark beetles is not uncommon, the number of trees dying is above average for this area.  The Oregon Department of Forestry recently conducted an aerial survey over parts of Wasco County and identified many areas that have been hit particularly hard in terms of drought stress.  Surveyed areas showing heightened levels of mortality range from Mosier to the White River, with the area between Eight Mile Creek and Fifteen Mile Creek being hit the hardest. 

Some forest landowners have taken a proactive approach and are currently salvaging dead and dying trees.  Often times, if salvaged soon after the needles turn color, trees will retain some market value at the mill which can help off-set the cost of removing the trees.  As part of the salvage, many landowners plan to pile the logging slash and burn the piles this fall or winter before the beetle flight occurs in the spring.  During the flight period (April through September), beetles are highly attracted to logging slash, especially newly created slash piles.  Burning slash piles before April 1st removes the food source and greatly reduces the likelihood of beetles moving into your area. 

Actively managing the forest landscape has many benefits to the landowner; for example removing dead and dying trees reduces fuel loading, and reduces the likelihood of large stand-replacing wildfires from sweeping across the landscape.  It removes stressed and weakened trees that bark beetles are largely attracted to, and significantly reduces the likelihood of a bark beetle outbreak.  It can be a source of revenue which can help off-set the costs of equipment used to salvage trees, and can help finance other projects to enhance your forest land such as maintaining or improving road systems, replacing old culverts, or planting new seedlings after harvest.  While salvaging the dead and dying material, forest land owners often take the opportunity (while the equipment is on site) to selectively thin-out competing trees and other vegetation in order to maintain a healthy growing environment for the remaining trees. 

If drought conditions persist, it is likely the situation will worsen and more hillsides will turn from green to red.  The Department of Forestry encourages landowners to be proactive in managing their forests and can provide technical forestry assistance to help in those efforts.  As a reminder, the Department of Forestry must be notified at least 15 days before you plan on harvesting trees in order to review the area for resources that may require protection.  Also, fire tools, a water trailer or water truck, and other fire equipment is required when working during fire season.  For more information contact Chet Behling (Stewardship Forester) at the Oregon Department of Forestry (541) 296-4626.