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An employee with the Oregon Department of Forestry is at work in a temporary new office in Stayton 16 months after the agency's Lyons office burned down in the Labor Day 2020 wildfires.
An employee with the Oregon Department of Forestry is at work in a temporary new office in Stayton 16 months after the agency's Lyons office burned down in the Labor Day 2020 wildfires.
Department of Forestry staff displaced by Labor Day 2020 wildfire move to temporary new office in Stayton (Photo) - 01/19/22

STAYTON, Ore. — Oregon Department of Forestry staff whose Santiam Unit office in Lyons burned down in the wildfires of Labor Day 2020 are now in a new leased office in Stayton. 

Since the wildfire 16 months ago, staff had been working either from home, in available office space at ODF headquarters campus in Salem as well as the compound in Lyons. The Santiam staff serve eastern Marion, northern Linn and southern Clackamas counties. This includes assisting people in the Santiam Canyon as they recover from the same devastating wildfires that claimed ODF’s Lyons office.

“We’re happy to be back closer to the community we serve,” said Santiam Unit Forester Kyle Kaupp. “We thank all ODF staff, our cooperators, partners, forest landowners, adjacent districts, and the public for being patient with us as we set up at our new location.”

The structures housing fire engines and other fire equipment survived the 2020 wildfires on ODF’s compound in Lyons. ODF fire personnel are continuing to provide fire protection from that location. 

In accordance with Oregon pandemic workplace guidelines the office in Stayton is not yet open to the public. People can contact staff by email, phone or postal mail to 930 W. Washington St. Suite 20, Stayton, OR 97383. The phone number is 503-859-2151.

Kaupp said planning is still underway to determine a permanent replacement for the lost ODF office building in Lyons, but no final decisions have been made yet.                    

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ODF awards National Forest $100,000 to help reduce wildfire risk in Medford's watershed - 01/18/22

MEDFORD, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Forestry has given $100,000 to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (RRSNF) for forest restoration work that will reduce catastrophic wildfire risk on 20,000 acres of the Big Butte Springs watershed, which is the year-round source of water for Medford and surrounding communities.

The award is under the Planning Assistance and Categorical Exclusion or PACE funds administered by ODF’s Federal Forest Restoration (FFR) Program.

Kyle Sullivan, who leads ODF’s FFR Program, said “PACE investments provide contracting opportunities that assist federal forest managers to expand and accelerate planning efforts for forest restoration treatments. The Snowy Butte Forest Restoration Project will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire risk in the watershed supplying Medford and communities near it with drinking water.”

Sullivan said ODF received 18 project proposals for PACE funds for this year, totaling $1,085,480. Through a competitive selection process, ODF was able to award a total of $622,895 to the nine top projects. 

“These will help the Forest Service plan faster, for more acres, and/or for more complex projects,” said Sullivan. “These PACE investments work to alleviate a key bottleneck to forest restoration efforts in Oregon: the National Environmental Policy Act planning process.”

The highest scored proposal was submitted by the High Cascades Ranger District in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.  The project rated high due to strong partnerships and matching funds contributed through the non-profit Blue Forest Conservation and the Medford Water Commission (MWC). The awarded funds ($100,000) will be used to conduct 2,000 acres of heritage surveys, thus increasing the project footprint.   

“We’re very excited to receive the additional funding from ODF for this project,” said USDA Forest Service District Ranger Dave Palmer. “The project area provides drinking water to 140,000 people in the Rogue Valley, so there’s an immediate need to reduce wildfire risk as soon as possible.”

The goal of the project is to treat approximately 20,000 acres, which amounts to one-third of the watershed. The work includes non-commercial fuels reduction, habitat restoration, silviculture treatments, and fuel breaks, which are designed to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire, protect drinking water quality, and promote resilience against stressors such as drought and insects. The project on this scale is necessary to achieving the level of widespread resilience necessary for sustaining and protecting this critical watershed. 

Given the importance of the watershed as a drinking water source, the project has enjoyed widespread support and significant engagement from local partners including: 

  • Medford Water Commission
  • Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative (SOFRC)
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Lomakatsi Restoration
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • American Forest Resource Council.

The watershed is identified as a priority area in the Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy, published by the collaborative in 2017. 

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People and organizations making a difference for Oregon's urban trees are ideal candidates for nominating for the annual urban forestry awards program. Online nominations are due Feb. 15 to Oregon Community Trees.
People and organizations making a difference for Oregon's urban trees are ideal candidates for nominating for the annual urban forestry awards program. Online nominations are due Feb. 15 to Oregon Community Trees.
Nominations sought for Oregon urban forestry awards program (Photo) - 01/06/22

SALEM, Ore. – Nominations are being sought between now and Tuesday, Feb. 15 for individuals, communities and organizations in the state who demonstrate outstanding accomplishments and leadership in urban and community forestry. Nominations will be reviewed by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the non-profit Oregon Community Trees (OCT) for their joint annual Urban and Community Forestry Awards Program.

Nominations for an individual, or an organization can be submitted online at Nominate a Tree Champion.They are being sought in two categories:

Individual: This is given to a person who has made significant contributions to urban forestry in Oregon. This may be work in tree planting and care, engaging citizens in community forestry, raising awareness about urban trees, and protecting Oregon’s urban forests.                          

Organization: This is given to a business, non-profit, school or municipality actively promoting healthy urban and community forests in Oregon through education, awareness, advocacy and investment in our urban forests.                        

OCT President Mike Oxendine said, “Since 1994, ODF and OCT have celebrated Oregonians who understand that healthy urban and community forests foster thriving communities. The awards focus attention on people and projects that are making a difference in Oregon.”

Kristin Ramstad is Manager of ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program. She said “There are so many wonderful ways people and communities are working to improve and enhance their local urban forest. We want to honor their efforts and share their best practices and good ideas to inspire others.”

In addition to the two award categories seeking nominations, the President of OCT selects an awardee to recognize outstanding contributions or life-time achievements in the field of urban and community forestry. This is the President’s Award.     

Finally, the Oregon Tree City of the Year is chosen by ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry Program staff.  Only Oregon cities and towns recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA and who demonstrate an effort to build a sustainable community forestry program are eligible for consideration.

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Committee for Family Forestlands meets Jan. 12 - 01/05/22

SALEM, Ore. — The Committee for Family Forestlands will meet virtually Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To join the virtual meeting, please use the Zoom video conference information found on the agenda. To provide public comment at this virtual meeting, please contact Susan Muniz at 503-945-7502.

The committee’s agenda includes:

  • Forest Resources Division update
  • Operator of the Year 
  • Legislative update
  • Roundtable update
  • State forester/board chair
  • Work plan discussion

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 72 hours before the meeting by contacting Susan Muniz at 503-945-7502.

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.

More areas re-open in Santiam State Forest after 2020 Labor Day fires - 12/28/21

Salem, Ore. – About 4,000 acres of the Santiam State Forest will re-open to public access on January 1, 2022 after the 2020 Labor Day fires heavily impacted the forest.

These areas are north of Highway 22, and much of the area burned in the 2020 fires. It includes re-opening the Niagara block and Rocky Top Trail; however, some destinations are at higher altitudes and roads are blocked by snow in the winter months. The Natural Arch trail remains closed.

Maps, closure areas, and anticipated re-opening timelines for popular areas are posted to the Santiam State Forest recovery site at https://www.oregon.gov/odf/recreation/Pages/santiam-state-forest.aspx. Re-openings will also be announced on ODF’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Many of the Santiam’s popular recreation areas, like Shellburg Falls and the High Lakes Recreation Area remain closed due to damage from 2020’s wildfires.

In closed areas, some of the recovery and restoration activities include re-establishing and repairing trails, replacing infrastructure like signs and bridges, removing hazard trees, and post-fire timber harvesting in some areas.

No matter where you go, outdoor activity comes with some level of risk. Here are some safety tips:

  • Do not enter closed areas.
  • Take extra caution when recreating in burned areas.
  • Be careful when driving on single-lane gravel roads in the forest. Active recovery and logging operations are underway. Keep to the right and anticipate oncoming traffic such as trucks, heavy equipment, and other vehicles.
  • Many forest roads cross multiple ownerships, and levels of road maintenance can vary accordingly.
  • Respect all land closures, public and private.