Monthly Archives: July 2018

Fire Hiring: Forest Service taking applications Aug. 1 – Oct. 15

Firefighters walk a forested ridge, silhouetted by sunlight behind them.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Aug. 1, 2018 – The USDA Forest Service is looking for committed, hardworking individuals interested in permanent federal positions working to suppress wildfires and work in fuels management on 19 National Forests in the Pacific Northwest region (Oregon and Washington State).

The fire and aviation program is very rewarding and requires working safely as part of a team in a variety of specialized positions, including dispatch, engine crews, fuels technicians, handcrews, helitack, hotshot crews, smokejumpers, and prevention.

This hiring event includes vacancies in the majority of our permanent fire management positions, at the GS-3 through GS-9 grade level.

Apply on www.USAJobs.gov between August 1 – October 15, 2018.

For more information: Visit www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/hiring/ and https://www.fs.fed.us/working-with-us/jobs/events/hiring

Firefighters walk a forested ridge, silhouetted by sunlight behind them. Text reads:

Fire Hire: Apply August 1 to October 15, 2018 at https://www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/hiring. USDA Forest Service image.

The USDA Forest Service is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region staff

Umpqua NF Calf-Copeland restoration field trips Aug. 4 & 14

Smoke plumes rise above a forested ridge

ROSEBURG, Ore. – July 30, 2018 – The Umpqua National Forest will host two public field trips about the Calf-Copeland Restoration project Aug. 4 and Aug. 14, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please note that field trip dates may be changed if wildfires start in the Calf and Copeland drainages along the North Umpqua River. If you plan on attending one or both of the field trips, please RSVP to Holly Cotton at (541) 957-3490.

The Calf-Copeland Restoration Project proposes to restore landscape resiliency to fire, preserve old-growth habitat, and save centuries-old ponderosa and sugar pine on over 3,000 acres. The project would also improve aquatic habitat by changing motor vehicle access on about 19 miles of roads and trails, placing logs in Calf Creek, and repairing two small wetlands.

The planning area is located in the heart of the Umpqua National Forest and includes the Dry Creek Community. The popular Twin Lakes roadless recreation area is also within the planning area although no activities are proposed to occur there.

The field trip scheduled Saturday, August 4, will highlight the past impacts of fire on the project area, potential fuel treatments, and restoration of pines.

Planned stops will include viewing fire effects in and around the project area, a discussion of some of the proposed shaded fuel breaks, and an example stand for pine restoration.

The second field trip, scheduled Tuesday, August 14, will highlight changes to the roads system and the roads’ relationship with streams and fish habitat.

Planned stops will illustrate roads that are currently too overgrown to support vehicle traffic, damage associated with a failed culvert, and how the agency would like to help restore aquatic conditions.

Both field trips begin and end at the North Umpqua Ranger Station, 18782 North Umpqua Highway in Glide, Ore. There will be a half-hour presentation at 9 a.m., followed by the field trip. Return time is 4 p.m.

Please bring water, lunch, weather-appropriate gear, and hiking shoes or boots, and be prepared to carpool to site locations.

Since 1987, over 50,000 acres have burned in or adjacent to the planning area, and tens of thousands more acres have burned nearby.

Due to the risk of large, uncharacteristically severe wildfires, part of this project’s goal is to reduce the risk of stand-replacing forest fires at a landscape scale, especially in high quality northern spotted owl habitat.

The oldest and most stately pines are also dying at an alarming rate, perhaps as much 25 percent every 10 years, due to a combination of overcrowding, insects and disease.

Without managing the landscape, ponderosa and sugar pines will continue to disappear. These watersheds, particularly Copeland Creek, also represent key areas with a high potential for fish restoration and improved water quality in the North Umpqua basin.

The scoping materials for the Calf-Copeland Restoration Project are available for review online at: www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=46990. A paper copy of these documents may be requested by contacting the Umpqua National Forest at (541) 957-3200.


A dead sugar pine tree

A dead sugar pine tree located in the proposed Calf-Copeland Restoration Project area, in an undated USDA Forest Service photo.


Source information: Umpqua National Forest public affairs office staff

Ochoco NF employee assists Puerto Rico forest with hurricane recovery

Heidi Scott poses on the wall of a small reservoir, beneath a waterfall

PRINEVILLE, Ore. – July 9, 2018 – An Ochoco National Forest employee recently returned from a five-month assignment to El Yunque National Forest, helping to rebuild the forest’s recreation infrastructure following 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

Heidi Scott, lands & recreation special use administrator for Ochoco National Forest, served as the El Yunque’s first recreation planner, helping to develop a forest recreation and interpretation plan and strengthen connections to surrounding communities.

Hurricane Maria, which formed in September last year, is regarded as the worst natural disaster to affect Puerto Rico on record. The Category 4 hurricane toppled trees, bridges and structures across the National Forest, and left several million Puerto Ricans without power, water or cell service.

When Scott first arrived on the island in January, there were approximately 500 contractors and an incident management team working to clear debris from roads and trails just to allow workers back into the National Forest, Scott said.

Most workers were housed in a hotel on the beach with a generator for electricity and no running water. The local power grid did not come back up until May.

During her detail, Scott helped to reestablish recreation infrastructure, lay plans for new recreation opportunities, and assisted the Forest in finalizing a new Forest Plan.

Fore example, she helped to reestablish visitor services when the hurricane rendered the existing visitor’s center, El Portal Rainforest Center, uninhabitable. The building will be under construction for the next couple years, so Scott helped the Forest revitalize an old ranger station into a new visitor’s center, and installed a series of kiosks, called “portalitos,” in surrounding communities to bring the visitor information to the community.

One of the best parts of the detail was experiencing a National Forest so different from the other forests in North America, she said. Keeping an eye out for the West Indian Mongoose in the field was a standard precaution (because they can carry rabies) and it was not uncommon to encounter the Puerto Rican Boa in the forest.

While re-construction efforts on the forest will take years to complete, Scott said she hopes to return in a few years to see the results.

Related stories: 


Source information: Patrick Lair is the Public Affairs Officer for the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grasslands in central Oregon.

Reminder: Drone flights over fires puts lives at risk

illustrated graphic depicting a drone on a collision path with an airplane dropping fire retardant. Below, a firefighter builds fireline next to a burning home and trees, and a family flees a second home ahead of the fire.

ROSEBURG, Ore. – July 25, 2018 – Fire officials with the Douglas Forest Protective Association, Umpqua National Forest and the Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management urge individuals and organizations that fly Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as “drones,” to stay away from active wildfire scenes to ensure the safety of firefighters and the effectiveness of wildfire suppression operations. There are currently numerous wildfires burning in southwest Oregon, including the South Umpqua Complex, which is located about 45 miles southeast of Roseburg.

Nationally, there have been at least 14 drone incursions in areas where wildland firefighting efforts are underway since the beginning of the year.

Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as air tankers and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes, typically just a couple of hundred feet above the ground, the same elevation flown by drones. This creates the potential for a mid-air collision or pilot distraction that can result in a fatal accident.

A drone that loses its communication link can fall from the sky, causing serious injuries or deaths of firefighters on the ground.

Unauthorized drone flights over or near active wildfires can lead fire managers to suspend aerial wildfire suppression operations – such as airtankers dropping fire retardant and helicopters dropping water – until the drone has left the airspace and they are confident it won’t return.

Suspending air operations decreases the effectiveness of wildfire suppression operations, reducing the efficiency of firefighting efforts and potentially allowing wildfires to grow larger or threaten lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources.

All unauthorized drone flights over or near wildfires on public or private lands will be reported to the FAA and law enforcement agencies.

Individuals who are determined to have interfered with wildfire suppression efforts may be subject to civil penalties of up to $20,000 and potentially criminal prosecution.

“It may be hard for individuals and organizations who aren’t familiar with wildfire suppression operations to understand why it’s so dangerous for them to fly a UAS over or near an active wildfire,” Terri Brown, Umpqua National Forest deputy fire staff, said. “Firefighting aircraft typically fly in smoky, windy, and turbulent conditions. Safety depends on knowing what other aircraft are operating in the airspace and where they are at all times and this is compromised by the presence of unauthorized aircraft, including UAS.”

The 14 documented instances of individuals and organizations flying drones without authorization over or near wildfires has resulted in aerial firefighting operations being temporarily shut down on 11 occasions.

In 2017, there were 38 documented instances of individuals and organizations flying drones without authorization over or near wildfires in 12 states (Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming). This resulted in aerial firefighting operations being temporarily shut down on 26 occasions.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has imposed a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the South Umpqua Complex Fire area.

The TFR requires aircraft, manned or unmanned, that are not involved in wildfire suppression operations to obtain permission to enter specified airspace.

The FAA and state and federal fire agencies consider all UAS, including those flown by members of the public for hobby or recreation purposes, to be aircraft and therefore subject to TFRs.

A list of temporary flight restrictions in effect is available online at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.

Avoid flying a drone anywhere near a wildfire. No amount of video or photos are worth the consequences.

graphic displaying info in caption and map of states affected so far in 2018 - CO, CA, TX, MN, AZ and UT

If you fly, we can’t: There have been at least 14 drone incursions into temporary flight restriction areas around wildland firefighting, shutting down aerial firefighting efforts at least 11 times. Drones violated TFRs 36 times in 2017, 41 times in 2016, 25 times in 2015, and 16 times in 2014. Keep drones away from wildfires!


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Umpqua National Forest, Bureau of Land Management – Roseburg District, and Douglas Forest Protective Association (serving Douglas County, Oregon) public information staff.

Outdoor Essentials: Be prepared, know before you go

A map, carved into a wooden signboard

We love spending time on our National Forests and Grasslands… but that welcome trip outdoors can quickly become an emergency if you head out unprepared.

Bringing these “10 Outdoor Essentials” on every trip will help ensure you’re ready for many of the every-day emergencies nature might send your way – whether you spend your time outdoors on the trail, or off the beaten path.

  1. Appropriate footwear. Flip flops might be just right for the beach – but bring shoes with laces and rubber soles in case you need to detour.
  2. A printed copy of your map. Electronics are often only as good as your ability to get a signal, or charge their batteries. If you know how to use a compass, bring it as well.
  3. Extra food. “Hangry” doesn’t help in any crisis.
  4. Extra water. This can be bottled, or supplies to purify what need if you expect you’ll be near water source during your travel.
  5. Extra clothing. We like polyester or wool layers that repel water or wick away moisture and help retain body heat, even when wet.
  6. Emergency items. Flashlight? Lighter or matches? Signal whistle? Radio? Imagine getting lost or trapped in the dark; bring what you’ll need to find your way back or signal for help.
  7. First aid kit.
  8. Knife or multi-purpose tool.
  9. Backpack. You’ll need this to carry your other essential gear!
  10. Sun protection – sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses.

Did we forget anything? Add your own “essentials” tips in the comments!

For more outdoor safety & ethics information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/r6/recreation/safety-ethics.

Printable flyers (PDF format):

Outdoor essentials

The 10 Outdoor Essentials. USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region image


Source Information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, Office of Communication and Community Engagement staff

In the News: Is thinning enough to save forests, communities?

firefighters set grass and brush on fire among a stand of evergreen trees along a dirt road to create a barrier of spent fuel to stop an oncoming wildfire

“Done right, forest thinning and fire treatments can work. Many say Sisters, Oregon is proof… Crews have been thinning, mowing, and burning the Deschutes National Forest for at least a decade. They think that work saved Sisters last summer, helping 675 firefighters stave off the Milli Fire as it raced towards town. It has been praised as an example of how proactive forest work can prevent deadly wildfire disasters. But even in the Deschutes, treatments fall short of historic burning rates by 30,000 acres every year….”

Oregon Public Broadcasting has a new installment in EarthFix reporter Tony Schick’s in-depth reporting on wildland fire in the Pacific Northwest.

The new story follows the Wolf Creek Hotshots on the Deschutes National Forest as they conduct a prescribed burn, and compares the impact of various fuels reduction treatments on the landscape, and on future fires.

Read more, or hear the radio version of the story, at OPB.orghttps://www.opb.org/news/article/west-wildfire-risks-fuels-treatment-thinning-burning/

 

In the News: Oregon Silverspot is back at Saddle Mountain

A orange and brown butterfly rests on a white flower

A population of Oregon Silverspot butterflies has been reestablished on Saddle Mountain, in the Oregon Coast Range, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

The Oregon Silverspot is one of three butterfly species in the Pacific Northwest federally listed under the Endangered Species Act. Two of the six known remaining populations of Oregon Silverspot are on the Siuslaw National Forest, at Mt. Hebo and Cascade Head.

Read more, at:
https://www.opb.org/news/article/threatened-silverspot-butterflies-saddle-mountain/

Smoke is in the air – how to prepare, protect yourself

map showing July 23, 2018 air quality and smoke data

Guest blog: How to react to wildfires while hiking

Firefighters hike on a road in front of an evergreen forest with burning underbrush.

“You’re on your own out there. Be prepared. There are tens of thousands of wildfires every year, and because of drought and our changing climate, they’re growing in number, size and intensity,” the Pacific Crest Trail Association shared recently on it’s “Backcountry Basics” blog.

  • Rule one: Don’t start a wildfire.
  • Rule  two: Be prepared with the knowledge and tools to react appropriately if a fire develops nearby.

Learn what to carry with you into the back country, fire area closures, and how to react if you encounter signs of fire or smoke on the trail, at this linkhttps://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/backcountry-basics/fire/how-to-react-to-wildfires/


Source information: The Pacific Crest Trail Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the stewardship and support of one of America’s oldest and most recognizable national trail. The PCT was established by the National Trails Systems Act of 1968, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

In the news: Can ‘Moneyball’ fix how the West manages wildfire?

flames and smoke are visible along a tree-lined ridge in a photo taken from a vehicle window

“Can ‘Moneyball’ Fix How The West Manages Wildfire?” That’s the question posed by EarthFix reporter Tony Schick in a story posted today to Oregon Public Radio’s website.

He follows USDA Forest Service researchers, employees, and partners on their dive deep into the data for western wildfires, exploring the many factors that influence decisions pressures on when to fight fires, when to let them do their ecological work, and why it’s often hard for land managers to make that call.

Read more, at OPB.org: https://www.opb.org/news/article/fire-wildfire-west-management-science-data-risk-moneyball/

« Older Entries