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A new mountain bike trailhead that includes new parking, picnic table and sign is part of the Shellberg Recreation Area in the Santiam State Forest.
A new mountain bike trailhead that includes new parking, picnic table and sign is part of the Shellberg Recreation Area in the Santiam State Forest.
Popular Shellburg Falls Recreation Area reopens after 2020 wildfire reconstruction (Photo) - 05/17/24

SALEM, Oregon--One of the most popular Santiam State Forest recreation areas, Shellburg Falls, will reopen today after being closed in the aftermath of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires.

“It’s almost unbelievable how wildfire can impact the landscape,” said Joe Offer, Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Recreation Manager.  “At Shellburg, we lost bridges, wooden signs and even the timbers on the ground used for steps burned up.  Yet our picnic pavilion with a metal roof survived.  It shows how wildfire burns at different rates, different severity, and skips around the landscape.  You can see that here at Shellburg.”

ODF estimates up to 75 percent of trees in the area were burned or partially burned. This made the department’s responsibility to manage state forests to provide economic, environmental and social benefits to Oregonians challenging.

A salvage harvest sale was conducted to get valuable timber out before it became unusable and to remove hazardous trees near roads, recreation areas and other infrastructure for the safety of the public.

“During those operations it gave the recreation staff time to evaluate and then reimagine the area to improve safety, access, and the overall experience in the forest for Shellburg users,” said Offer.

The challenge was the department did not get any more funds or positions to address the sever loss of recreation infrastructure.

“We have 1.5 fulltime recreation positions for the entire Santiam State Forest,” said Offer.  “That’s a challenge to carry out normal operations let alone rebuilding several recreation areas after fires. We also did not get any additional funds to replace lost infrastructure.”

With limited staff and budget, ODF relies on a unique partnership with South Fork Forest Camp (a joint Department of Corrections and ODF facility in Tillamook State Forest) and local non-profit groups to get much of the rebuilding and maintenance work done.

“The adults in custody from South Fork make and install all our signage,” said Offer. 

They also do trail work and provide labor outside of fire season when they contribute crews to fight wildfires.

“For Shellburg, the Salem Area Trail Alliance, Cascade Trail Crew and Trailkeepers of Oregon are key partners,” said Offer.  “Without their help, I’m not sure when we would have reopened.”

Some of the major changes to Shellburg include the closure of the old trailhead and the conversion of the small campground to the new main trailhead.  The new one is approximately six miles, mostly on gravel forest roads, from the old one.

“We had safety issues with people parking on the paved county road on busy days and access issues across private land with the old trail,” said Offer.  “The new trail head eliminates both those issues.”

There are two trails to the falls now, the first is Upper Shellburg Falls Trail that is approximately 1.5 miles round trip. This gives hikers a view from above or parallel to the falls. The second is the Lower Shellburg Falls Trail which is four miles round trip and ends up at the base of the falls. 

“In the future we plan to build a bridge below the falls to connect the trails,” said Offer. 

The other big change is the trail no longer goes behind the falls.

“There are loose rocks and gravel—so it is unstable and not safe.  We had to close that,” said Offer. 

There are barriers and signs warning people not to go behind the falls.

In addition to the trails to the falls, there are other hiking and mountain biking trails in the newly opened area that people can explore. 

“Our hope is people see this as an outdoor destination and not just one trail,” said Offer. “The falls are beautiful, but the other area trails will be interesting for people to see especially as the different impacted areas of the forest recover from those 2020 fires.”

In addition to Shellburg, all other campgrounds in the Clatsop, Santiam and Tillamook State Forests will open for the season today. To see a complete list, go to ODF’s website.  

The one major exception is the Butte Creek Falls Recreation Area in the Santiam State Forest. Salvage logging operations are on-going there from the 2020 fires, but it should reopen later this summer once hazard trees are removed from the access roads. 

Jena Hughes from the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development will explain just how urgent the need for more housing is in Oregon as one of the speakers at the
Jena Hughes from the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development will explain just how urgent the need for more housing is in Oregon as one of the speakers at the "More Housing, More Trees: Giving Oregonians Both" urban forestry conference in Eugene on June 27.
Oregon Community Trees announces speakers for June 27 Oregon Urban Forestry Conference in Eugene (Photo) - 05/16/24

(EUGENE, Ore.) – Oregon Community Trees is announcing the names of the three individual speakers at the June 27th Oregon Urban Forestry Conference, being held in Eugene this year. “More Housing, More Trees: Giving Oregonians Both” is the theme of this year’s conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry and USDA Forest Service. 

The latest speaker to confirm is Dutch-Canadian ecological engineer and author Nadina Galle.  Galle’s new book entitled The Nature of Our Cities: Harnessing the Power of the Natural World to Survive a Changing Planet will be published by HarperCollins on June 18. She is winner of the European Space Agency’s top prize for her work on individual tree crown delineation to combat urban deforestation. She has received a number of other academic and entrepreneurial awards, including a Fulbright scholarship for a fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Lab, where she still holds a research affiliation. Just this year she was named a National Geographic Explorer, researching how growing cities across Latin America are plugging into the Internet of Nature.  At the conference, Galle will appear virtually and make the case for more tree canopy. 

Making the case for why Oregon needs more housing will be Jena Hughes, a Housing and Growth Management Analyst at the Oregon Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). There, she looks for creative solutions to address complex housing challenges guided by equity and sustainability. Before joining DLCD, Hughes spent seven years as a long-range planner in local government. She worked primarily on housing and land-use issues. Hughes studied Sustainable Environmental Design and City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Opening speaker for the conference is Eugene mayoral candidate Kaarin Knudson. Knudson is a licensed architect, educator and leader with more than 20 years’ experience advancing sustainable design and community-led solutions. In 2017 she founded the housing advocacy organization Better Housing Together to increase housing affordability, diversity, and supply in Lane County. She has been a longtime member of the City Club of Eugene, and was its president in 2022-23. She advised on the implementation of Oregon’s landmark middle housing laws and for the creation of Eugene’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. She teaches a graduate urban design workshop at the University of Oregon and is co-author of a new textbook, The Sustainable Urban Design Handbook.

Two afternoon panels will dive deeply into discussions of creative ways cities can find new spaces to add tree canopy and how to preserve trees during multi-family housing development. Among the confirmed panelists are:

  • Ted Labbe, founding board member of DePave, a non-profit dedicated to urban re-greening.
  • Ryan Gilpin, consulting arborist and owner of Nidus Consulting. Gilpin is a contributing author of a book on best management practices for protecting trees during construction.
  • Portland developer Eli Spivak.
  • Chris Neamtzu, who as Planning Director for the City of Wilsonville planned and implemented many residential neighborhoods where preserved trees are the focal point. He is now Wilsonville’s Community Development Director.
  • Trees for Life Oregon board member Jim Gersbach. The organization advocates for the preservation of large, healthy shade trees and the space to plant them in Oregon’s urban communities.

There will also be a variety of poster presentations on topics such as methods of tree preservation during construction, ideas for redesigning streets and right-of-way planting strips to make room for larger trees, and similar concepts. Anyone interested in submitting a presentation can do so here. 

Early registration for the conference is $150 until May 24 and $180 after that. Students can register for $80. Price includes a boxed lunch and social hour beverages and snacks following the conference. To register or for more information, please  go to More Housing, More Trees: Giving Oregonians Both by Oregon Community Trees (givelively.org)

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Committee for Family Forestlands meets for special meeting May 20 - 05/15/24

SALEM, Ore. — The Committee for Family Forestlands will meet virtually for a special meeting on Monday, May 20 from 1 to 3 p.m. To join virtually, please use the Zoom video conference information found on the agenda

The committee’s agenda includes:

  • Discuss comments on Vision for Oregon’s Forests

The meeting is open to the public to attend online via Zoom. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 24 hours before the meeting by emailing committee.of.family.forestlands@odf.oregon.gov.

The 13-member committee researches policies that affect family forests, natural resources and forestry benefits. Based on its findings, the committee recommends actions to the Oregon Board of Forestry and the State Forester. View more information on the CFF webpage.

State holding open house meetings on community wildfire programs - 05/14/24

SALEM, Ore. — A series of six open houses about the state’s new community wildfire risk reduction programs are scheduled June 3 through July 1 across Oregon. These events will offer opportunities to learn about new defensible space and home hardening standards, as well as the draft wildfire hazard map. 

The resource-fair style open houses are being held in the communities that have some of the greatest levels of wildfire hazard within the wildland-urban interface. Each open house will begin with a short presentation and introductions, but visitors may stop in at any point during the event to get questions answered about the draft hazard map and associated community wildfire programs. 

Representatives from multiple agencies will be present to have one-on-one or small group conversations to help people understand Oregon’s statewide wildfire programs.

  • Oregon Department of Forestry representatives will address questions on administrative rules and hazard zone assessment appeals.
  • Oregon State University representatives will address questions on wildfire hazard science, statewide data sources, and updates to the draft hazard map made over the last two years.
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal representatives will address questions regarding defensible space standards, code adoption process and implementation.
  • Building Codes Division representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home hardening construction standards, related code provisions, and implementation.
  • Division of Financial Regulation representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home insurance market and requirements of insurers under Senate Bill 82 (2023).
  • Wildfire Programs Advisory Council members will address questions on statewide policy direction for wildfire programs and council business.

Meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Redmond—Monday, June 3, Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, South Sister Hall, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond, OR 97756
  • La Grande—Tuesday, June 4, Union County Fairgrounds, Mount Emily Building, 3604 N 2nd St., La Grande, OR 97850
  • Central Point—Monday, June 17, Jackson County Fairgrounds, Mace Building, 1 Peninger Rd., Central Point, OR 97502
  • Grants Pass—Thursday, June 20, Grants Pass High School, 830 NE 9th St., Grants Pass, OR 97526
  • Klamath Falls—Monday, June 24, Klamath County Event Center, Hall #2, 3531 S 6th St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603
  • The Dalles—Monday, July 1, Oregon Military Department Armory, 402 E. Scenic Dr., The Dalles, OR 97058

Find more information on ODF’s wildfire hazard webpage.

To subscribe to information related to updates on the statewide wildfire hazard map, visit the ODF website.

Background: The 2021 Legislature passed Senate Bill 762 that required the Oregon Department of Forestry to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide map of wildfire risk that included wildland-urban interface boundaries and five fire risk classes by June 30, 2022, in collaboration with Oregon State University. After the initial version of the map was rescinded August 4, 2022, ODF and OSU began gathering feedback and incorporating it into future mapping efforts. 

The 2023 Legislature passed Senate Bill 80 that made several changes to the map including changing the name from a “risk” map to a “hazard” map, reducing the number of hazard classes from five to three, and changing the appeal and notification requirements. 

Written comment or questions about any aspect of the implementation of Senate Bill 762 and Senate Bill 80 may be submitted by email at any time to odf.wildfirehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov.

Prevent Wildfires: Burn Debris Responsibly - 05/13/24

SALEM, OR – The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and other fire prevention experts urge the public to exercise caution when disposing of yard debris this spring. Over seventy percent of wildfires in Oregon are human-caused fires, with debris burning being the number one cause. As the weather gets hotter and fuels begin to dry out, the risk of a debris burn escaping increases. 

Now is the time to trim trees, bushes, and tidy up plants around your home to create a “defensible space” around your property. As you begin spring clean-up, the Oregon Department of Forestry and Keep Oregon Green urge you to put some extra thought into how you plan to dispose of your yard debris.

Call your local ODF office before burning to make sure the weather conditions are safe. You can also cover a part of the pile with plastic to keep it dry until the rainy fall and winter seasons when it’s safer to burn. Delaying your burn plans will give the debris more time to cure and avoid spring holdover fires as fire risk increases with hotter, drier weather. 

By choosing alternative disposal methods, or burning under safe conditions outside of fire season, Oregonians can significantly reduce the risk of creating a large wildfire. Remember, debris burning requires a permit or is prohibited in most areas during fire season.

If burning now is the only option to dispose of yard debris, fire prevention specialists ask people to follow safe burning practices. 

  • Call before you burn –  Burning regulations vary by location depending on the weather and fuel conditions. If you are planning to burn, check with your local ODF district, fire protective association, fire department, or air protection authority to learn about current burning restrictions or regulations, and if you need a permit.
  • Know the weather – Burn early in the day and never burn on dry or windy days, because fires can spread out of control more easily.
  • Always have water and fire tools nearby – When burning, have a charged water hose or a bucket of water, and shovel on hand to put out the fire. Drown the pile with water, stir the coals, and drown again, repeating until the fire is cold to the touch.
  • Clear a 10-foot fuel-free buffer around the pile – Make sure there are no tree branches or power lines above.
  • Keep burn piles small – Large burn piles can cast hot embers long distances. Keep piles small, maximum of four feet by four feet. Add debris to the pile in small amounts as the pile burns.
  • Burn only yard debris – State laws prohibit burning materials or trash that create dense smoke or noxious odors.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids to start or speed up your fire.
  • Stay with the fire until it is cold – NEVER leave your debris burn unattended. State law requires monitoring of debris burn piles from start to finish until it is out cold. This law is intended to ensure sparks or embers that jump from the fire can be put out quickly.
  • Go back and check burn piles. They can retain heat for several weeks and restart when the weather warms up and winds blow.
  • Costs of run-away debris burns– State law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires all year. If your debris burn spreads out of control, you may have to pay for suppression costs, as well as the damage to your neighbors’ properties, which can be extremely expensive.

 

More tips on wildfire prevention, including campfire safety, motorized equipment use, and fire-resistant landscaping can be found on the Keep Oregon Green website. Find public use restrictions for Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands before your burn.

Forestry Program for Oregon Subcommittee meets May 15 - 05/09/24

SALEM, Ore. — The Forestry Program for Oregon Subcommittee will meet virtually on Wednesday, May 15 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. To join virtually, please use the Zoom video conference information found on the agenda

The subcommittee’s agenda includes:

  • Review of current draft for Vision of Oregon’s Forests

Accommodations for people with disabilities, and special materials, services, or assistance can be arranged by calling ODF’s Public Affairs Office at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting at 503-945-7200 or by email at forestryinformation@odf.oregon.gov.

Subcommittee purpose: Collaborative work forum for board and agency leadership to advance efforts to jointly develop a modern Forestry Program for Oregon (FPFO). Read more information about the subcommittee.

Oregon Dept. of Forestry seeks to give $10 million in urban forestry grants to federally recognized Tribes - 05/09/24

(SALEM, Ore.) – The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, is now taking proposals from the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon for grants they could receive for urban and community forestry projects and programs.

In 2023, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) awarded ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program $26.6 million of the $1.5 billion investment in urban and community forestry from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 

“The IRA funding Oregon received is intended to promote community and urban forest investment and tree equity for overburdened and underserved communities,” said ODF UCF Program Manager Scott Altenhoff.Tribal communities in Oregon have a long history of displacement, dispossession and under-investment in their communities. So, a significant proportion of the funds – $10 million – are earmarked to support federally recognized Tribes’ efforts to protect and enhance their urban and community forests. This also includes workforce development in the urban forestry sector.”

Specifically, priorities for the funds earmarked for federally recognized Tribes are to:

  • Support community and urban forestry assessment, planning, and prioritization
  • Support culturally responsive community and urban forestry education, engagement, recreation, and community-building initiatives
  • Build capacity with collective impact through a community and urban forestry network 
  • Support community forestry and natural resource-related workforce development 
  • Significantly expand tree production, planting, and maintenance 
  • Support monitoring, adaptive management, and lesson sharing 

The USFS and ODF have also identified projects or programs related to first foods (foods traditionally eaten by Native Americans) and improving community access to greenspaces (e.g., developed parks or natural areas) as priorities for this funding opportunity.

Proposals should address at least one of the above program priority areas, or clearly demonstrate how the proposed project or program supports Tribal community connections to trees and/or forests, said Altenhoff.

He acknowledges that the program areas outlined may not fully reflect each Tribal Nation’s community and urban forestry needs and priorities. 

“We recognize that working with Tribes through this federal funding is critical to strengthening relationships and supporting the needs of Tribal communities to enhance cultural, socio-economic, and environmental priorities,” Altenhoff said. 

Altenhoff said a further $12.5 million will soon be made available to other eligible entities throughout Oregon. The money will fund competitive, multiyear investments in urban and community forestry programs and projects. Proposals for this second funding opportunity should:

  • increase equitable access to urban tree canopy
  • broaden community engagement in urban and community forest planning, tree planting, and management activities
  • improve community and urban forest health and resilience. 

ODF Urban and Community Forestry Program Mission and Vision

The mission of ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is to advance equity, well-being, and resilience for all communities in Oregon by promoting investments in trees and green infrastructure. Our vision is for every community forest in Oregon to thrive with good planning and management, while fostering statewide recognition of trees and forests as vital contributors to the social, economic and environmental well-being of the state’s residents.

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State Forests Advisory Committee hosts tour May 16, meets May 17 in Forest Grove - 05/08/24

SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) state forests advisory group will host a tour of forestland in portions of the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests on May 16 and meet on May 17 in Forest Grove, and the meeting will have a virtual option via Zoom.

The public is welcome at both events, hosted by the State Forests Advisory Committee (SFAC). The meeting agenda will be posted on the SFAC webpage. 

Details

Forest Tour: Meets at 8:30 a.m. on May 16 at the Hornshuh Creek fire Station #14 at 49021 NW Sunset Highway in Banks. The tour will visit the Wolf Creek Target Shooting Lanes, a partial cut harvest for habitat development, and a stop at Reehers Camp to hear and see the Salmonberry trail project. RSVP is requested for the forest tour so that attendees can be provided safety equipment. Tour attendees should provide their own lunch, refreshments and transportation suitable for traveling on forest roads. Please RSVP no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 to Emily Shook at emily.j.shook@odf.oregon.gov.

SFAC meeting: The committee will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. May 17, at the ODF Forest Grove District Office at 801 Gales Creed Road in Forest Grove. Topics on the agenda include an update on the FY2025 Annual Operations Plans, a briefing on the draft Western Oregon Forest Management Plan, and State Forests Implementation Plan revision considerations for FY2026-2027. The public will have the opportunity to provide comments virtually or in person at the beginning of the meeting.

SFAC’s role

The State Forests Advisory Committee (SFAC) includes citizens and representatives of timber, environmental and recreation groups. SFAC provides a forum to discuss issues, opportunities and concerns, and offer advice and guidance to ODF on the implementation of the Northwest Oregon State Forests Management Plan. The plan provides guidance for managing 616,000 acres within the Tillamook, Clatsop and Santiam State Forests, and several scattered state-owned forest tracts in Benton, Polk, Lincoln and Lane counties through a balanced approach to generate revenue while prioritizing environmental and social benefits.

Friday’s meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. Questions about accessibility or special accommodation for the meeting can be directed to the Oregon Department of Forestry at (503) 983-3761

Public invited to comment on Forestry strategic plan - 05/08/24

Salem, Ore. — The Oregon Board of Forestry and Department of Forestry are inviting public comment on the final draft of their new shared strategic plan, the Vision for Oregon’s Foreststhrough May 24.

The board and department have been working together on this plan—which will replace the Forestry Program for Oregon—for the past two years. The Vision for Oregon’s Forests will provide the strategic direction that will guide both the board and department’s work for the next several years. 

Comments can be submitted online or by mail to: ODF Public Affairs, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310. Comments will be shared with the board prior to their June 7 vote to adopt the plan. 

Throughout the remainder of 2024 and into 2025, the board and department will continue to build upon the foundation provided by the Vision for Oregon’s Forests through developing associated progress measures. ODF will also build out its process for development of action plans to achieve the goals identified in the Vision for Oregon’s Forests. Engagement with department and board advisory committees, Tribes, key state and federal agencies, stakeholders, other partners, and local communities to identify actions will be a core component of the planning process.

Grafted ponderosa pine
Grafted ponderosa pine
J.E. Schroeder Seed Orchard contracts Kevin Barnes to propagate improved trees for Oregon's forests (Photo) - 05/07/24

ST. PAUL, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) contracted Kevin Barnes, grafting specialist, to propagate improved Douglas fir, western hemlock, western larch, and ponderosa pine trees for the J.E. Schroeder Seed Orchard. Barnes plays a crucial role in propagating improved tree varieties that will produce seeds for replanting clearcuts and areas affected by fire in Oregon.

At the J.E. Schroeder Seed Orchard, geneticist Don Kaczmarek uses traditional breeding methods to develop trees for Oregon with characteristics such as increased growth rates, climate adaptability, and resistance to insects and disease. Barnes grafts material from parent trees to a rootstock that provides water and nutrients for growth. “It’s a specialized profession and not a lot of people do what we do,” Barnes said.

“Our hope here at Schroeder is that we can continue to provide a reliable seed source that can help keep Oregon’s forests thriving,” Seed Orchard Manager Casara Nichols said.

Barnes uses a grafting technique that ensures the cambium layers of the plant material align. This alignment is vital for the successful growth of the grafted tree. "When you have an old growth tree that's 200 ft. tall, cambium acts like a ladder. No matter how tall that tree is, the water and nutrients go up the tree cell by cell from the root system clear to the top of the tree," Barnes explained. The graft is secured with a 100% natural rubber strip, called a budding strip, which is then sealed with water-based asphalt to protect the union.

“We try to shorten the time from orchard establishment to first cone crops. Trees planted this fall will produce their first cone crops in six to seven years dramatically shortening the time to production of advanced seed compared to trees grown in natural stands,” Kaczmarek said. Trees are grafted in the winter to early spring and orchards are planted in the fall of the same year. It takes roughly seven to 10 months for trees to become established following grafting.

A rich family history in the field backs Barnes’ knowledge of tree grafting. His father, Gerald Barnes, previously managed the Dorena Tree Improvement Center. Through a school trade-learning program, he introduced Kevin and his brother Shawn Barnes, who works for ODF doing seed processing, to the craft. The Barnes family has been instrumental in the development and success of modern orchards across Oregon. They have worked for the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and private timber companies for over 30 years.

The J.E. Schroeder Seed Orchard is celebrating its 50th anniversary through May. To find more information about the seed orchard, visit https://www.oregon.gov/odf/working/pages/seed.aspx.

Media Advisory Only: 2024 media access to natural disasters training now available - 05/06/24

The annual training required for journalists to gain unescorted access natural disaster scenes is now available. The free, one-hour online training course is provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Training credentials need to be renewed every year by completing the training. 

New for this year: Training credentials will be generated automatically after passing the quiz at the end of the course and available immediately. Journalists are encouraged to print two copies of their credentials—one to display in their vehicle and another to keep in their wallet—and to save an electronic copy to their phone or computer, just in case.

House Bill 4087 (2022) granted journalists access to certain natural disaster scenes even if a public safety organization escort is unavailable. The bill’s access provisions apply specifically to natural disaster scenes on non-federal public lands that are also closed to the public due to the disaster. The HB 4087 guidelines created by a joint committee of public safety and media representatives provide additional important information including personal protective equipment requirements and circumstances when access may be denied.

For more information about HB 4087 and media access to natural disasters in Oregon, check out these resources from the Safe Media Access to Disaster Sites Committee and the Oregon Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

If you have problems accessing the training or questions about media access, contact Joy Krawczyk, ODF’s Public Affairs Director, at joy.p.krawczyk@odf.oregon.gov or April Ehrlich with OPB at aehrlich@opb.org.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month - 04/29/24

SALEM, Ore. – May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Oregon experiences its heaviest wildfire activity during the summer months, but fires occur all seasons of the year including spring. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state, tribal and local fire agencies, will be spreading the word about the steps we all can take to prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires this summer, and encouraging Oregonians to create defensible space around homes and outbuildings. 

At stake: lives, property and scenic beauty

Each year, over 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped debris burn piles or gas-powered equipment and vehicles casting sparks or catching fire.

During the 2023 fire season, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported that people were directly responsible for sparking 823 wildfires that burned 6,197 acres. Any spark can gain traction in dry vegetation, spread quickly and impact lives, personal property, and the many benefits provided by Oregon’s scenic natural areas.

Before heading outdoors this summer, contact the agency or landowner who manages the land at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should be familiar with these restrictions before building campfires or using equipment that could ignite a wildfire. 

Put Your Smokey Hat On

Smokey Bear is celebrating his 80th birthday this year. Smokey is a beloved and trusted American icon that has educated the public on preventing human caused wildfires since 1944. His timeless and important message celebrates people who take responsibility and prevent wildfires. Smokey’s hat is the driving force behind Keep Oregon Green’s 2024 summer wildfire prevention campaign. “Put Your Smokey Hat On” is a call to action, encouraging the public to predict the outcome of their actions and do everything they can to prevent wildfire ignitions. Campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org and its various social media platforms.

Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips 

During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be shared each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org, the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/odf, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal at https://www.oregon.gov/osfm/education/pages/prevent-wildfires.aspx

Follow Oregon wildfire news and prevention updates on social media: Twitter @keeporegongreen, @ORDeptForestry and @OSFM

Adaptive Management Program Committee meets May 6 - 04/29/24

SALEM, Ore. — The Adaptive Management Program Committee will hold a virtual meeting Monday, May 6 at 3 p.m. To join virtually, please use the Zoom video conference information found on the agenda.

The committee’s agenda includes:

  • Finalize responses to clarifying questions from the IRST re: Roads questions package (Substantial decision item)
  • Refresher on Eastern Oregon Steep Slopes questions package

The meeting is open to the public to attend online via Zoom. Public comments will be accepted near the start of the meeting. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting by emailing adaptivemanagementprogram@odf.oregon.gov.

The 13-member committee The Adaptive Management Program Committee helps determine if forest practices are meeting their goals to protect natural resources through a science-based and transparent process. The committee sets the research agenda that the Independent Research and Science Team (IRST) implements. View more information on the AMPC webpage.

Hawaii joins the Northwest Compact - 04/25/24

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada — The Northwest Wildland Fire Protection Agreement (NW Compact) is excited to announce the addition of the State of Hawaii as its newest member.

The NW Compact was created in 1998 and is one of eight forest fire fighting Compacts currently operating across North America. The purpose of the NW Compact is to promote effective prevention, suppression, and control of forest fires in the Northwest wildland region of the United States and Western areas of Canada. It provides an efficient way for member states, provinces, and territories to cope with wildland fires that might be beyond the capabilities of a single member agency, through information sharing, technology and resource distribution.

The NW Compact is operated by member states, provinces and territories, who include:

  • Alberta
  • Yukon Territory
  • Saskatchewan
  • Northwest Territories
  • British Columbia
  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Montana

And now, Hawaii.

Despite being a sub-tropical island chain with lush tropical forests, wildfire in the State of Hawaii  is an increasing problem, especially with climate change affecting temperatures, rainfall patterns and extreme events like the powerful winds that led to the catastrophic fires in August 2023. In Hawaii, the proportion of land area burnt on an annual basis is comparable to that in western states.  

Hawaii also has a unique biota that evolved without the frequent occurrence of wildfire, which today is often fueled by land use changes and introduction of invasive species. The compact will be another way for Hawaii to address this increasing threat to its environment and communities.

Hawaii’s decision to join the NW compact was due to the need for additional firefighting resources in the state. The compact enables the exchange of resources with other compact members to improve wildfire response capacity in Hawaii.  It will allow Hawaii-based wildland firefighters to gain experience by assisting with wildland firefighting efforts on the North American continent while also allowing the state to call on assistance from other members in the compact, thereby benefiting all compact members.

Ash trees like these in Cornelius are at risk from emerald ash borer. Oregon officials will be inspecting on Wednesday morning which trees might be protected with treatment, even as already infested trees in Forest Grove are cut down to slow the spread of this invasive pest.
Ash trees like these in Cornelius are at risk from emerald ash borer. Oregon officials will be inspecting on Wednesday morning which trees might be protected with treatment, even as already infested trees in Forest Grove are cut down to slow the spread of this invasive pest.
State officials will show media methods used to slow the spread of emerald ash borer in Washington County (Photo) - 04/23/24

WHEN: Wednesday morning, April 24, 2024

WHERE: Forest Grove and Cornelius, Oregon

WHAT: State agencies in Oregon and their local and federal partners are trying a two-pronged approach to slowing the spread of the destructive tree-killing insect pest emerald ash borer (EAB) in urban areas. The first involves felling and chipping ash trees already infested with the pest. The second involves treating healthy ash trees in good condition with a systemic insecticide to protect them from infestation. A third phase this fall will involve the planting of different tree species that are not at risk from EAB.

First Stop - Forest Grove: Matt Mills, Oregon Dept. of Agriculture’s Project Manager for the Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM) strategy will be on site and available for interviews as a contractor fells ash trees infested with emerald ash borer (EAB) and feeds debris into a chipper. 

TIME: 9:30 a.m. 

MEET AT: 1218 Emily Street, Forest Grove, Oregon (Park on Emily Street)

VISUALS: Workers with chainsaws felling ash street trees infested with EAB in a residential neighborhood and chipping the wood to destroy larvae. 

SOUNDS: Chainsaws, crashing noise as trees come down, grinding noise as debris is fed into chipper.

Second Stop – Cornelius:  Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Urban Assistance Forester Alison Herrell  will be on site and available for interviews as she works with local officials to identify healthy urban ash trees that will later be treated later with an insecticide to protect them from EAB.

TIME: 10:45 a.m.

MEET AT: Intersection of Alpine Street and 23rd, Cornelius, Oregon

VISUALS: Alison walking down residential street examining street trees, including measuring their size with a diameter tape and inspecting them for health and any signs of EAB. Alison will also have along the systemic injection equipment to demonstrate how it works to protect trees.

RSVP: Please let Public Affairs Officer Jim Gersbach know if you plan to attend one or both stops. He will be on site with local colleagues to help with interviews, filming and recording. 

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