Oregon Dept. of Forestry
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Oregon Department of Forestry does nighttime aviation testing in Grant County - 07/17/19

JOHN DAY, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is working with CO Fire Aviation, an aerial resource vendor, to test the effectiveness and safety of nighttime use of Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) to fight wildfires in Oregon.

Exploratory testing started Monday night, July 15, at the John Day Airport, and continued Tuesday night. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, testing will transition from the airport to private lands protected by ODF’s John Day Unit in Grant County. ODF and CO Fire Aviation are coordinating with local emergency personnel and dispatch centers to provide current information on the operation.

This testing evaluates the feasibility of using advanced night vision technology to identify firefighters  and any hazards on the ground. Testing operations include on-the-ground firefighters communicating with the pilot via radio, using lights and lasers to identify drop areas. Information gathered during the testing will be used to determine whether night SEAT operations would be a viable tool.

“ODF consistently evaluates advances in technology to support our mission to safely suppress wildfires at the smallest size possible,” ODF State Aviation Manager Neal Laugle said. “Safety is first and foremost, which is why exploratory testing like this is so important. Using SEATs at night would allow firefighters to take advantage of the reduced fire activity typical in the evening hours. These aviation resources could support ground firefighters by slowing the fire’s spread and intensity.” 

Outcomes of this testing phase will determine the next steps in evaluating the potential use of this innovative technology.

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Board of Forestry meets July 24 in Salem - 07/16/19

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Board of Forestry will meet in Salem on July 24 at 9 a.m. This month’s meeting agenda includes:

  • A presentation on activities of the Committee for Family Forestlands and discussion of key issues and future policy needs.
  • An update on the 2019 fire season.
  • Testimony from the Forest Trust Lands Advisory Committee.
  • Consideration of and determination on the petition for Forest Practices Act rulemaking on protection requirements for coho salmon resource sites.
  • An update on the department’s current fiscal and budgetary status.

The meeting will be held in the Tillamook Room, Administration Building C, at the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters, located at 2600 State St., in Salem. The meeting is open to the public, with the exception of the executive session scheduled from 11 a.m. until noon.

Public comment will be accepted on agenda topics and at the start of the meeting for topics not on the agenda. Written comments may be submitted to oardofforestry@oregon.gov">Boardofforestry@oregon.gov in advance of the meeting. A livestream option and meeting materials are available online at https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/BOFMeetings.aspx.

Accommodations for people with disabilities, and special materials, services, or assistance can be arranged by calling ODF’s Public Affairs Office at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting at 503-945-7200.

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The Oregon 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 about the Board is available at: www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/AboutBOF.aspx.

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Returning the favor: With bases covered at home, ODF crews assist with Alaska wildfire response (Photo) - 07/16/19

SALEM, Ore. – With relatively favorable early fire season conditions, last week the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) sent personnel to Alaska to assist with wildfire suppression. ODF leadership selected personnel from areas where current conditions and available resources allow for the opportunity to send help to our Alaskan partners while ensuring capacity to respond to any local fires on the home front.

As partners in the Northwest Compact — an agreement allowing quick and cost-effective resources sharing across state and international lines — Oregon and Alaska have helped one another in years past. Most recently, crews from Alaska provided assistance on both the Klondike and Taylor fires during the 2018 fire season.

The Alaska deployment offers unique firefighting challenges and training opportunities, such as working on the permafrost, avoiding conflicts with local wildlife, and the need for helicopter rides for personnel to remote fire camps. While this experience may differ from typical fires in Oregon, the objective is familiar for ODF crews: safely put fires out while they are small. Given ODF strives to safely put fires out at 10 acres or less 98 percent of the time, the focus on initial attack is a familiar one for these skilled firefighters.

“These ODF crews were selected from across the state for their skill and experience with initial attack, as well as the availability and conditions back home. Our folks are not assigned to a large fire up here, but are relieving exhausted personnel engaged in continuing efforts to catch new fire starts while they are small. As part of Oregon’s complete and coordinated system, and the Northwest Compact, this is what ODF is all about,” said ODF’s Jamie Paul, serving as the Agency Representative for ODF resources in Alaska. “We are happy the timing allows us to assist our interagency Alaskan partners in their time of need.”

With 8 overhead positions and 20 initial attack crew members, ODF has a total of 28 personnel currently engaged in Alaska. As crews prioritize initial attack efforts and minimize the long-term impact on resources, overhead positions are helping oversee operations.  A maximum duration of the standard 14-day assignment is expected, while some resources will head home as early as next week.

Consisting of 5 U.S. states; Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, the NW Compact also includes the 5 Canadian Provinces/Territories of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.

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Forest Trust Lands Advisory Committee meets July 19 at ODF headquarters in Salem - 07/15/19

SALEM, Ore – The Forest Trust Lands Advisory Committee will meet Friday, July 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the Oregon Department of Forestry Salem headquarters, Tillamook Room, Building C, 2600 State St. Items on the committee’s agenda include the following:

  • Project updates and overview of FTLAC and public engagement processes on Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Northwest State Forests Management Plan (FMP) revision
  • FTLAC chair topics: Gauging impact on counties of a revised Forest Management Plan, measuring how state forest management affects social and economic well-being of Council of Forest Trust Land Counties, and seeking to understand how selling carbon credits from state forests will impact rural economies
  • Opportunity for public comment

The meeting agenda and materials are posted on the department’s web site at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/FTLAC.aspx.

This meeting is open to the public. Questions about accessibility or special accommodations can be directed to the Oregon Department of Forestry at least 48 hours prior to the meeting at 503-945-7200.

The Forest Trust Lands Advisory Committee is comprised of seven county commissioners representing 15 Oregon counties where state forestlands are located. The FTLAC is a statutorily established committee that advises the Board of Forestry on matters related to forestland managed by ODF.

Single-engine firefighting airplane personnel to practice suppression training at Salem's McNary Field airport on Thursday, July 11 - 07/09/19

Media Advisory

SALEM, Ore. — Two single-engine air tankers (SEATs) will fly from their base in Prineville to Salem on Thursday for suppression training. This annual training provides opportunity for Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) personnel to prepare for fighting fires in and around northwest Oregon during the 2019 fire season. Staff on site at the McNary Airfield will practice loading the SEATs with water-enhancing gel while personnel in a field location practice communicating with aircraft from the ground. The planes and their pilots are under ODF contract.

Additionally, 2019 marks 100 years of aviation for ODF. Since August of 1919, aviation resources have been used to support boots on the ground suppression efforts, detection of wildfire, insect and disease surveying, and logistical missions. During this training event, ODF personnel will have additional information on the history of aviation with the Department.

VISUALS: Planes landing and taking off, pilot briefing, ground crews loading gel into planes.

ODF Deputy Fire Protection Chief Ron Graham will be available for interviews.

PLANES ARRIVE: 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. (unless needed for an active fire in central Oregon)

LOADING: 9:30 - 11:00 a.m.

RSVP: Media should RSVP with ODF Public Information Officer Bobbi Doan for travel logistics.

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ODF Declares Fire Season Officially in Effect Statewide - 07/02/19

SALEM, Ore - Fire season is now officially in effect on all Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protected lands. The announcement comes after the ODF Northwest Oregon and North Cascade protection districts declared fire season July 1, 2019. ODF’s Southwest Oregon District was the first to declare fire season June 1.

ODF protects over 16 million acres of private, county, state and federal land. Fire season is declared at the local district level, with restrictions intented to help prevent human-caused wildfires. Declarations are based on the National Fire Danger Rating System as well as other local factors, such as weather and conditions on the ground. Fire season generally runs through October and ends based on local conditions.

For residents within ODF’s 12 fire protection districts, the arrival of fire season means the end of unregulated outdoor debris burning, a leading cause of wildfire. While permits to burn may be issued in some areas, debris burning is generally prohibited throughout the summer due to increased wildfire risk. Violators burning without a permit will be cited and held liable for fire suppression costs.

Other public use fire restrictions are also in effect in several areas. The use of fireworks, tracer ammunition and exploding targets are illegal within ODF protection boundaries, as well as other state and federal lands. Campfires, the mowing of dry, cured grass, cutting and welding, power saw use and other spark-emitting activities are regulated at the local level, depending upon the conditions and fire danger. For example, during low fire danger, mowing may be allowed all day. However, during moderate, high and extreme fire danger mowing may be restricted to early morning or prohibited until conditions improve.

ODF encourages the public to stay informed of current fire restrictions by visiting the agency’s Fire Restrictions & Closures website or calling their local ODF or protective association office.

Forest operators are required to follow fire season requirements, including providing a water supply, fire tools, spark arresters on equipment, and fire watch. Similar to fire danger restrictions for the public, operators must follow rules under the four-tiered Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) system.  

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Northwest Oregon enters fire season July 1 - 06/27/19

FOREST GROVE, Ore. — Northwest Oregon will enter fire season on Monday, July 1, with public use restrictions going into place in an effort to prevent wildfire starts.

Fire season is declared when local conditions create the potential for significant wildfire. Monday’s declaration affects ODF-protected areas in Tillamook, Columbia, Clatsop and western Yamhill and Washington counties.

Public use restrictions as of July 1 include no use of tracer ammunition or exploding targets as well as no smoking within any forest operation area. Use of fuse and caps for blasting is also prohibited unless approval is granted by the district forester.

To make public use restrictions easier for the public to understand, ODF will be using the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFRDS) system commonly seen on fire danger boards. Restrictions will vary based on whether the fire danger level is Low, Moderate, High or Extreme.

“Reducing the number of human-caused fires is critical. We want to clearly communicate the current danger level – and the appropriate restrictions to prevent fires under those conditions – to aid that effort,” ODF Columbia City Unit Forester Malcolm Hiatt said.

Despite northwest Oregon’s wetter, cooler climate, drier conditions in the area pose a higher wildfire risk than in many previous years. While rain showers in the past week have stalled the spring drying trend temporarily, next week’s temperatures are forecast to be in the 80s with continued warming and drying through July 4 and the rest of the week.  So far, 21 fires have been reported in northwest Oregon – nearly double the 11 fires reported at this time last year. However, the 29.3 acres burned is significantly less than the 52.9 burned at this point last year. All of 2019’s fires in northwest Oregon thus far were caused by humans. Statewide, 295 fires have burned 1,279 acres – 275 of which were human-caused.

Fire season restrictions limit activities by the public which pose a risk for starting wildfires in forestlands. For the latest information about restrictions in a particular location, check ODF’s fire restrictions webpage at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx