Monthly Archives: August 2018

In the News: Lessons from the PCT

view of a meadow and rocks on the Pacific Crest trail with Mt. Hood in the background

The New York Times columnist (and native Oregonian) Nicholas Kristoff wrote about recently completing his six-year journey to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail with his daughter.

He concluded his reflections on that journey with this thought:

“My escape to the wilderness is an annual therapy session, anchoring me to family and helping put me in my place. My legs are sore, my blisters are horrifying, and it looks as if I’ll lose a few toenails. All is well with the world.”

Read more, at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/opinion/pacific-crest-trail.html

 

Forest Service credits forest treatments for containment of Timber Crater 6 fire

A fire burns alongside a road in an area of previously thinned forest.

The Forest Service often talks about using thinning and prescribed fire for “fuels reduction” and forest restoration – but in recent years, wildfires that crossed paths with these treated areas have provided vivid demonstrations of how these treatments not only improve forest health, but also reduce the intensity and challenge of containing later wildfires, improving public safety and firefighters.

In mid-July, a lightning storm passed through southern Oregon, igniting multiple fires in the drought-stressed forest in and around Crater Lake National Park. Firefighters quickly contained most of these fires, but several grew together and became the Timber Crater 6 Fire. It was projected to grow as large as 20,000 acres. But earlier fuels treatment projects conducted in the area allowed firefighters to pursue an aggressive full-suppression strategy, which kept the fire to just 3,100 acres.

 

firefighters working among well-spaced pine trees

Thinning projects improve tree spacing and remove dead trees, while prescribed fire helps reduce ground duff and underbrush that could cause future fires to burn faster and with more intensity. Because ground plants and grasses have evolved with regular wildland fires in this region, native species often rebound quickly following low-intensity burns, while high-intensity fires may kill trees and damage surrounding soil. USDA Forest Service photo.

Over the years, the Fremont-Winema National Forest and Crater Lake National Park have worked collaboratively on a variety of thinning and prescribed burning projects in the Antelope Desert area of the Chemult Ranger District.

The Timber Crater 6 Fire was burning in an area with heavy fuels with few breaks where firefighters could work safely. Fire behavior can be extreme under these conditions. But, the nearby treated areas gave firefighters safe ground to operate and respond under more favorable conditions. The treated areas were critical in keeping the wildfire shorter in duration, less costly, safer for firefighters, less threatening to private property, and with few smoke and economic impacts to local communities.

Often, firefighters need to do significant preparation before starting a burnout operation, including removing trees, chipping, and digging fire lines. The burned area, now cleared of potential fuels, can then serve a “fire break” against a advancing, larger fire.

Two firefighters use a chainsaw to clear brush below a stand of pine trees.

Firefighters prepare an area for burnout operations on Fremont-Winema National Forest as part of efforts to contain the 2018 Timber Crater 6 fire. USDA Forest Service photo.

Because the treated areas required little prep work, crews were able to move in quickly to conduct a burnout operation, and confining the most dangerous part of the fire and removing fuels in its path.

In less than three weeks, the Timber Crater 6 fire was confined to just 3,126 acres and many firefighters were freed up early to move on to other fires.

Old-growth Ponderosa pine trees were protected from high-intensity wildfire, no community evacuations were required, and this fire did not contribute to the longer duration smoke impacts that occurred across the region this season.

The Timber Crater 6 fire demonstrates the value of fuels treatment projects. Many areas across the Pacific Northwest, especially in the wildland urban interface, need thinning and prescribed burning to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk.

That’s why the Forest Service is working closely with state partners and local communities to increase the number and size of these fuels reduction projects in conjunction with efforts to strengthen fire-adapted community preparedness.


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region staff

Fire safety for hunting season

A mule deer with large antler rack in a hay field on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon.

It may feel like fall, but just because temperatures are getting cooler doesn’t mean conditions aren’t still tinder-dry. With hunting season already underway in some places and rapidly approaching for others, USDA Forest Service land managers are asking hunters and other forest visitors remember that fire season is still underway – and that even past fires can present hazards long after their flames have been extinguished.

When hunting on public lands, remember:

  • Just because the weather is cooler doesn’t mean it isn’t dry enough for fires to start, and spread! Know before you go if there fire restrictions in effect.
  • If campfires are allowed, make sure your fire is dead out before leaving. Drown, stir, and drown again – if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!
  • Consider campfire alternatives, such as propane stoves.
  • Do not idle, drive or park on dry grass. Vehicle exhaust, or the hot metal on the undercarriage, could ignite the grass or brush beneath.
  • Do not flick cigarettes out vehicle windows. Extinguish smoking materials in an ashtray.
  • Check any chains you may be using on a trailer. Dragging metal on the roadbed can start a shower of sparks into dry vegetation causing a wildfire.
  • Report wildfires by calling 911.
  • Any time you are travelling in the woods, let someone know your planned route, destination and expected return time.

If you’re visiting an area recently burned by wildfire, use caution!

  • People intending to hike into, or near, the fire area should remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Know the forcasted weather before entering the area, assess the weather conditions while in the area, and stay clear of burned trees. Don’t camp or hang out in the wildfire area.
  • Hazard trees or snags tend to pose the most immediate threat.  Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a wildfire are unstable, especially in high winds, and can lose heavy branches or fall at any time.
  • Look up! People are often more aware of obstacles on the ground but don’t often look up and around to assess danger.
  • Ash and fallen needles are slippery and can make for treacherous footing on trails.
  • Burned-out stump holes can make the ground weak and subject to failure. Be aware that ground can be unstable, due to burned-out roots beneath the surface.
  • Loose rocks and logs are unpredictable, and can down slope towards you or out from under you.
  • Burned vegetation can also contribute to landslides, mudslides and erosion when the rain returns. Badly burned ground is less absorbent than healthy forest soil. Flash floods and mud flows may occur.
  • Expect to encounter firefighter traffic, dusty roads, and smoke in some areas. Be aware, and be prepared for possible obstacles or closures related to firefighting activity. Be careful, for your safety and theirs.
Image of a target, icons, and text: Know Before You Go - Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!

Know Before You Go – Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!

In the News: Abnormally dry to drought conditions continue across Pacific Northwest

Creek at Forest Road 2204, Olympic National Forest May 31, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Douglas Parrish.

Capitol Press reports that moisture across Washington and Oregon ranges from extremely dry to drought conditions, with little relief expected in the next three months.

According to the article, the region’s most extreme drought conditions are centered on southwest Oregon, with drought conditions extending across Oregon and western Washington, and extremely dry conditions continuing through central and eastern Oregon.

Stream flows in Oregon are running an average of 50% below normal this summer, ranging from 30 percent in the John Day basin to as much as 80 percent in the South Coast region.

Full story: http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20180829/drought-lingers-across-northwest

QUIZ: What Pacific NW National Forest should you visit next?

Choose your next adventure!

Are you a hiker or a biker? A “bird nerd” or a history buff? Do you prefer to wade at ocean beaches, or in lakes?

Take our quiz and we’ll suggest what Pacific Northwest National Forest you should visit next based on your responses, and provide links to learn more about recreation opportunities on that forest, passes and permits, and all the other info you’ll need to plan your trip!

Link:
https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/outreach-education/what-tree-are-you-quiz.shtml

Images of a forested ridge along the ocean, a wildflower in a meadow, and a waterfall, with text: Choose your next adventure! Discover what National Forest you should visit next in the Pacific NW with the USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station's online quiz, at https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/outreach-education/visit-pnw-national-forest-quiz.shtml.

Choose your next adventure! Discover what National Forest you should visit next in the Pacific NW with the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station’s online quiz, at https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/outreach-education/visit-pnw-national-forest-quiz.shtml.



Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region & Pacific Northwest Research Station staff

Job announcements for Summer 2019 season open for applications Sept. 17

Flyer features USDA logo, Forest Service logo, a close up image of a Forest Service arm path on a uniform somewhere outdoors, and text: "The USDA Forest Service will be accepting applications for more than 1,000 seasonal spring and summer 2019 jobs in Oregon and Washington. Position announcements will be available from Sept. 17-Oct. 12, 2018 in multiple fields, including fire, recreation, natural resources, timber, engineering, visitor services, and archaeology at www.USAJobs.gov. Seasonal employment is a great way to give back to communities, learn new skills, and perform meaningful work. Individuals interested in finding more information about a specific position should contact the National Forest where the position is hosted. The USDA Forest Service is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/r6/jobs.."

PORTLAND, Ore. — Aug. 29, 2018 — Are you a teacher, student, retiree, winter ski-instructor, or anyone else who may be looking for opportunities to work in the great outdoors this summer?

More than 1,000 seasonal jobs, in positions ranging from archaeology to trails maintenance to biological sciences to wildland firefighting will be offered on National Forests in the Pacific Northwest for summer 2019 – but if you want these jobs, you’ll need to plan ahead.

This year, summer job applications must be submitted online at USAJobs.gov during the summer jobs application window, which runs from mid-September through mid-Octomber, 2019.

This seasonal application window is earlier than in previous years, to ensure the agency is able to complete background checks and other pre-employment requirements before the prospective employee’s anticipated start date.

Seasonal Forest Service employees help provide clean water, wildlife habitat, sustainable forest products, wildfire support, and recreation opportunities on 17 National Forests, a National Scenic Area, two National Volcanic Monuments, and one National Grassland in Washington and Oregon, each summer.

Potential applicants are encouraged to access the USAJobs website early to allow time to create their profile, upload their resume, and update their user accounts before the application period opens.

Summer, 2019 vacancies will be posted Sept. 17 through Oct. 12, 2018.

For more information about summer job opportunities with the USDA Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest, visit fs.usda.gov/goto/pnwjobs.

Download the press release:

English (PDF):  Join the Forest Service! Agency Hiring for 1,000+ Seasonal Positions in Oregon and Washington

Español (PDF): ¡Únase al Servicio Forestal! La agencia está contratando personas para cubrir más de 1,000 puestos temporales en Oregon y Washington

A collage of USDA Forest Service employees in the field, representing positions related to forest restoration, wildland firefighting, recreation, engineering and fish biology.

USDA Forest Service employees in the field, representing positions related to forest restoration, wildland firefighting, recreation, engineering and fish biology.


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

 

In the news: U of I study measures firefighter fatigue, health impacts

A row of firefighters mop-up smoldering coals in a smoky, wooded area by chopping up the dirt with axes and other hand tools

In 2015, three firefighters died after being trapped by a shift in wind direction while fighting a fire outside Twisp, Wash; Tom Zbyszewki, 20, Andrew Zajac, 26 and Richard Wheeler, 31.

Their deaths prompted Randy Brooks, a professor of Forestry, Rangeland and Fire Sciences at the University of Idaho;s College of Natural Resources, to study how fatigue during long, physically and mentally intense firefighting seasons impact firefighter alertness, decision-making ability, health, and overall safety. His reasons were both professional, and personal – his son, Bo Brooks, was also a firefighter on the Twisp River Fire.

“I think we need a paradigm shift in the way we think about fighting wildfires at all cost and place a greater emphasis on personal safety over protecting resources,” the elder Brooks said. “Trees grow back, homes can be rebuilt, but lives can’t be replaced.”

Read more about the study, which collects real-time health data from 18 smokejumpers, and has surveyed hundreds of wildland firefighters, on the University of Idaho website, at: https://www.uidaho.edu/cnr/research/stories/wildlandfirefighter

Matsutake mushroom season opens on Central Oregon forests

matsutake mushroom cap grows on a forest floor

BEND, Ore. – Aug. 28, 2018 – Matsutake mushroom commercial season opens immediately following Labor Day weekend on four National Forests in central Oregon.

This year’s commercial season for Matsutake mushrooms on the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Umpqua, and Willamette National Forests is Sept. 4 through Nov. 4, 2018.

Permits for the 62-day commercial season will cost $200. Half-season permits, valid for 31 consecutive days, will be $100, and day permits will be $8 per day with a three-day minimum purchase (picking days do not need to be consecutive).

The permits are valid on all four Central Oregon forests, and is required for all gathering of Matsutake mushrooms for re-sale.

Harvesters must be 18 years of age or older and have a valid ID in order to purchase a permit. Permits will be available at ranger district offices on the forests during regular business hours.

Each purchase of a permit will include an informational synopsis and map. The map shows areas open to harvest. The permit is NOT valid on state or private property.

Areas closed to harvest include Crater Lake National Park, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, and Research Natural Areas, Wilderness areas, Oregon Cascades Recreation Area (OCRA), campgrounds, and other posted closed areas.

The Forest Service requires commercial harvesters to have written permission from the agency to camp on any National Forest, except in designated camping areas.

Ranger District office locations:

Camping:

A campground for harvesters has been established at Little Odell Mushroom Camp near Crescent Lake, Ore. Hoodoo Recreation Services will manage the camp. The per-person rate for camping is $125 for the full two month season, $75 for a half-season and $40 per week. Site occupancy allows up to 8 persons and 2 vehicles. Water, garbage, and toilet services are provided. The camp will open on September 4, 2018. For more information about rates or services at Little Odell Mushroom Camp you can contact Hoodoo at 541-338-7869 or www.hoodoo.com.

Fire Safety:

Mushroom harvesters are reminded that Public Use Restrictions are in effect and must be followed due to VERY HIGH or EXTREME fire danger within the Fremont-Winema, Umpqua, Deschutes, and the Willamette National Forests. Harvesters should call the numbers listed for more information on site specific public use restrictions.

For more information about the Matsutake mushroom program, contact:

  • Fremont-Winema National Forest (Chemult Ranger District): (541) 365-7001,
  • Deschutes National Forest (Crescent Ranger District): (541) 433-3200,
  • Umpqua National Forest: (541) 957-3200
  • Willamette National Forest: 541-225-6300

Source information: Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Umpqua and Willamette National Forest Matsutake Mushroom program (joint press release)

VIDEO: Drones are changing how wildland fire is fought

A firefighter loads plastic sphere dispensers into an unmanned aerial system, or drone, that will be used to deliver the payload

Drones are changing the way we scout and manage wildland fires; getting eyes on backcountry and steep terrain without additional “boots on the ground,” providing real-time information about terrain, conditions and fire intensity – even in zero-visibility smoke – using thermal and infrared cameras, and even allowing firefighters to light backfires, used to encircle and contain a larger fire, remotely in terrain that can’t be safely accessed by firefighters.

In this video, Incident Commander Tom Kurth with the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team introduces four applications for unmanned aerial systems, or drones, for use in fire management: aerial survey; heat location; aerial firing; and mapping. The Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team was assigned to incidents in southwest Oregon during the summer of 2018.

 

Unauthorized drones are a serious hazard to aviators, aircraft and firefighters during wildland fires. Not only do they place aircraft, passengers and crews at risk, but dection of unauthorized flights grounds dozens of emergency air resource flights supporting wildland firefighting efforts every year.

Unmanned Aerial Systems, or drones, are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.  Never use a personal drone to fly over an emergency response area, and check for temporary flight restrictions every time you fly.

All drones are aircraft - even the ones at the toy store. When you fly a drone, you're a pilot. Use your pre-flight checklist - stay below 400 ft., stay within your visual line of sight, don't fly within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting air traffic control and airport authorities, and always check for temporary flight restrictions before you fly. For more info, visit faa.gov/uas or knowbeforeyoufly.org

All drones are aircraft – even the ones at the toy store. When you fly a drone, you’re a pilot. Use your pre-flight checklist – stay below 400 ft., stay within your visual line of sight, don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting air traffic control and airport authorities, and always check for temporary flight restrictions before you fly. For more info, visit faa.gov/uas or knowbeforeyoufly.org


Source information: Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team, via Northwest Interagency Fire Information Center – Pacific Northwest Fire Information, on YouTube

Last call to contribute ornaments to 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree!

Two women pose with an array of handmade Christmas tree skirts

SWEET HOME, Ore. – Aug. 24, 2018 – Oregonians have contributed thousands of hand-made ornaments to adorn dozens of trees from the Willamette National Forest that will decorate the U.S. Capitol halls this summer… but there’s still work to do!

The 70-foot Capitol Christmas Tree, whose massive, be-decked boughs will bring season’s greetings from the state to visitors on the National Mall throughout the holiday season, still needs a bit more, um, sprucing up.*

* The 2018 Capitol Christmas tree is not actually a spruce, it’s a fir – either a Douglas Fir or a Noble Fir. The tree was selected by the Architect of the Capitol this summer, and it’s identity is still being kept under wraps for security reasons but will be announced shortly before the tree is felled this fall.

“We still need large ornaments,” Stephani Gatchell, the Ornament Lead for Sweet Home Ranger District, which is providing this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree. Around 2000 more ornaments, in fact. It will take 3,500 large ornaments, in all, to decorate the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree.

Ornaments contributed to date have sported an eclectic mix Oregon, outdoors, and forest-focused themes as diverse as their creators. Freedom Hill Church offered placards, painted with spiritual messages of hope and peace, campers from Camp Harlow in Eugene delivered 400 decorated sugar pine cone ornaments for the small trees, and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) delivered 17 tree skirts in addition to more than 800 ornaments.

But because the main Capitol Christmas Tree is so tall, and is displayed outdoors, ornaments for this tree have some additional requirements.

Large Capitol Christmas tree ornaments should be:

  • 9-12 inches in size,
  • Reflective and colorful
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof.

Logos are not permitted on ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree.

Are you up for the challenge? Visit https://www.capitolchristmastree.com/participate/decorate.html to learn how you can contribute to this incredible display of seasonal spirit and Oregon pride in Washington D.C. during the 2018 winter holiday season.

Ornaments must be received by October 1, 2018. They can be dropped off in person at any one of our drop locations located here or mailed to the Sweet Home Ranger District at: 4431 Hwy 20, Sweet Home OR 97386.

For more information, contact Sweet Home Ranger Station by calling (541) 367-5168 or email capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com.

Have you found your Capitol Christmas Tree commemorative ornament yet?

More than 100 have been found, but there are still more to find! Registered ornaments could win instant prizes and are entered in a drawing for a trip to see the 2018 tree-lighting in Washington D.C.

Check to see what trails still have unclaimed ornaments at this link, and #FindYourTrail! (Contest ends Oct. 2, 2018).

More info: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/willamette/home/?cid=FSEPRD581522



Source information: Willamette National Forest staff

« Older Entries