Category Archives: Safety

In the news: Wolf Creek Job Corps firefighters assist rescue flight

On June 21, 2019, Wolf Creek Job Corps student students assisted a REACH-8 Air Medical Services crew evacuate an injured motorist from the Umpqua National Forest. At left, a satellite image of the students creating a light ring to identify a field where the helicopter would land. At right, students involved in the rescue post for a photo. USDA Forest service photos.

Firefighting students at the Wolf Creek Job Corps recently called on their emergency response skills to aid an injured motorist.

Members of the center’s staff called 911 after a second motorist drove 20 miles to the center to report a vehicle crash on the Umpqua National Forest. The injured motorist was transported by ambulance to the center, and a REACH flight helicopter was called in.

“Normally the ground unit that is requesting us sets up a pre-determined landing area or has a local fire department assist with this task,” Brittany Countryman, a REACH flight crew member and registered nurse, wrote in a letter to the center’s firefighters and staff. “On this very dark night there was no one available to help us land or locate a safe place to land. Troy and the group of young men that met us were fast; we made the decision to try to land at the Job Corps field and within minutes there was a well-lit area to guide us in.”

June 21, 2019 satellite image of Wolf Creek Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center firefighters gathered in formation on the Wolf Creek Job Corps baseball field to assist a REACH-8 Air Medical Services Agusta A109 Power helicopter land and take off safely during a nighttime emergency airlift. USDA Forest service photo.

The student firefighters gathered in formation to simulate a ring of helicopter landing zone lights that allowed the air medical services crew to land safely on the center’s baseball field, which served as the extraction point. They also helped off-load the stabilized patient from the ground ambulance, and transported her across the Little River to the helicopter.

“Wolf Creek fire students are trained to respond to all risk incidents under the incident command structure,” Gabe Wishart, the center’s director, said.  “Our students’ ability to respond under stress, follow instruction, and to work safely in atypical situations such as this medical evacuation demonstrates the effectiveness of that training.” 

Full story, via USDA Forest Service: https://www.fs.fed.us/inside-fs/wolf-creek-job-corps-firefighters-step-plate-during-nighttime-medical-air-evacuation

On June 21, 2019, Wolf Creek Job Corps student students assisted a REACH-8 Air Medical Services crew evacuate an injured motorist from the Umpqua National Forest. USDA Forest service photo.

In the News: Pack it in, pack it out

"Trash No Land" Target Shooting Cleanup Event near Fish Creek, Mt. Hood National Forest for Earth Day, 2013. USDA Forest Service photo by Trent Deckard.

In recent years, recreation visits have steadily increased on national forests… and the problem of discarded trash sometimes seems to have increased exponentially with the increase in visitors.

KMTR-TV 16 helped staff remind western and central Oregon communities. that trash dumping isn’t welcome on the Willamette National Forest or any other public lands.

The story aired a few days before Independence Day holiday, an especially busy time for recreational visits to National Forests all around the country.

Many forest visitors have heard frequent admonitions from federal, state and local agencies – as well as environmental advocates – to “leave no trace.” But many still fail to realize that discarded trash isn’t just a nuisance; it can be an environmental hazard, threaten wildlife health and safety, and even have adverse impacts on human health.

Trash found littering the forest floor near Cougar Reservoir, Willamette National Forest, Ore., Oct. 3, 2010. USDA Forest Service photo.
Trash found littering the forest floor near Cougar Reservoir, Willamette National Forest, Ore., Oct. 3, 2010. USDA Forest Service photo.

Phosphorous-heavy soaps and detergents can foster algae and microbe growth – which can result in algae blooms that irritate eyes and skin for humans and wildlife, or other algae growth that trap oxygen needed by fish when it decomposes in the lakes and streams where they live.

Pet waste may carry parasites or microbes that are deadly to wildlife.

And while all trash litters the natural landscapes others come to the forest to enjoy, some creates health and safety hazards for those who encounter it – while also creating many hours of work for volunteers and federal land managers who must train for, plan, and conduct a safe and thorough clean-up of the affected area when such dumping occurs.

Full story, via KMTV-16: https://nbc16.com/news/local/pack-it-in-pack-it-up-a-motto-for-leaving-your-campsite-as-you-found-it-this-summer

Dump Stoppers trash haulers, 4XNation volunteers, and Mt. Hood National Forest Staff clean up thousands of pounds of trash dumped at La Dee Flats, Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. during a 2019 forest clean-up event. USDA Forest Service photo.
Dump Stoppers trash haulers, 4XNation volunteers, and Mt. Hood National Forest Staff clean up thousands of pounds of trash dumped at La Dee Flats, Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. during a 2019 forest clean-up event. USDA Forest Service photo.

Regional Forester: Fireworks prohibited on public lands

Don't be the spark: Fireworks are prohibited on public lands. USDA Forest Service image.

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 27, 2019) As July 4th and the Independence Day holiday approaches, fire officials remind visitors that fireworks and exploding targets are prohibited on public lands.

“With warm and dry conditions, all it takes is one small spark to start a wildfire,” Glenn Casamassa, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, said. “Please be safe and responsible with fire when visiting your public lands this summer!”

Fireworks are banned on national forests at all times, regardless of weather or conditions. Fireworks are also prohibited on other public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Oregon State Parks, and Washington State Parks, as well as most county and city parks.

Violators can be subject to a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail (36 CFR 261.52). Additionally, anyone who starts a wildfire can be held liable for the cost of fighting the fire.

In 2018, 1,485 wildfires in Oregon (68%) and 1,457 wildfires in Washington (84%) were human-caused.

Visitors are also encouraged to practice campfire safety as unattended campfires are the number one source of human-caused wildfires on public land.

If you are planning to have a campfire, remember:

  • First, check with the local unit and know before you go whether campfires are allowed in the area you are visiting. Fire restrictions may be in place, depending on current conditions.
  • Keep your campfire small and away from flammable material.
  • Use a designated campfire ring when available.
  • Keep water and shovel nearby.
  • Completely extinguish your campfire by drowning your fire with water and stirring with a shovel.
  • Make sure your campfire is cold to the touch before leaving it.

Nationally, nearly nine out of ten wildfires are human-caused due to sparks from debris burning, equipment and machinery, campfires, vehicles, and other sources.

Visit www.SmokeyBear.com for additional fire prevention information and resources.

This land is your land: Safeguard our natural treasures. #Independence Day. USDA Forest Service image.

Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (press release)

In the News: Ten Outdoor Essentials

Shandra Terry, USDA Forest Service, shares the Ten Outdoor Essentials with Tra'Renee Chambers on KATU-TV 2's "Afternoon Live" program, June 4, 2019. Full story: https://katu.com/afternoon-live/lifestyle-health/national-forest-essentials

The “10 Outdoor Essentials” should be second-nature for anyone engaging in responsible recreation on public lands.

Yet every day, people head outdoors unprepared.

Don’t do it!

The “essentials” list, recognized by everyone from scouts to mountaineers, is an easy way to make sure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way while enjoying the great outdoors.

Can you wear flipflops in the woods? Sure – but make sure you also have sneakers or boots in your pack, in case you get caught outdoors longer than planned.

Speaking of which, have a plan!

Make sure someone knows where you are going and how long you will be gone, so they can sound the alarm if you don’t return when expected.

Shandra Terry, from the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communications and Community Engagement, shared these and other essential outdoor tips with KATU-2 Afternoon Live host Tra’Renee Chambers in Portland, Ore. June 4.

Full story: Watch the KATU-2 interview, below (or, visit https://katu.com/afternoon-live/lifestyle-health/national-forest-essentials).

Help us spread the word! Print or save the “Ten Outdoor Essentials” flyer and share it with everyone who enjoys public lands... or wants to start!

Outdoor Essentials: Be prepared and carry these essential items any time you head out into the outdoors! 1. Appropriate footwear. 2. Printed map. 3. Extra water. 4. Extra food. 5. Extra clothes. 6. Emergency items. 7. First aid kit. 8. Knife or multi-purpose tool. 9. Backpack. 10. Sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses.
Outdoor Essentials: Be prepared and carry these essential items any time you head out into the outdoors! 1. Appropriate footwear. 2. Printed map. 3. Extra water. 4. Extra food. 5. Extra clothes. 6. Emergency items. 7. First aid kit. 8. Knife or multi-purpose tool. 9. Backpack. 10. Sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses. USDA Forest Service graphic, Sept. 2018

Updated: National Get Outdoors Day in Vancouver, WA June 8

Smokey Bear greets attendees during the National Get Outdoors Day event at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in a June 10, 2017 file photo. USDA Forest Service photo.

VANCOUVER, Wash. (May 29, 2019) –  Experience free outdoor activities and family fun at the annual National Get Outdoors Day event Sat. June 8, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Climb a rock wall, learn to shoot a bow and arrow, catch a fish, play soccer, experience disc golf, listen to live music, and more with activities suitable for children and families!

Learn more about how Pacific Northwest residents experienced the outdoors 180 years ago through a living history exhibit of a Hudson Bay Company fur trader encampment at Fort Vancouver. Costumed re-enactors will demonstrate cooking, crafts, games, dances, music, and weaponry from the 1840s, and host activities for participants to experience elements of that era first-hand.

Get Outdoors Day at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site brings more than 35 land management agencies, non-profits, and outdoor-based businesses to introduce the public to fun outdoor activities.

Booths and food vendors will be lined along East 5th St., to the west of Pearson Air Museum.

“We love working with all of these partners at Get Outdoors Day to help encourage kids and families to experience their public lands,” Gifford Pinchot National Forest Acting Supervisor Angie Elam said.

“Get Outdoors Day brings together multiple agencies and organizations to provide a lively event full of activities and opportunities that embrace the health benefits that outdoor recreation provides,” Fort Vancouver Superintendent Tracy Fortmann said. “As an urban national park, Fort Vancouver NHS serves as an ideal gateway to national parks, forests, trails, and other public lands.”

During the event, the Friends of Fort Vancouver will host two lectures at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center (1501 E Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, WA).

  • From 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Native American artist Lillian Pitt shares stories of the Columbia River People with children from “Salmon and Coyote Tell my Family Stories.”
  • From 2-3 p.m., Volcanologist and author Dr. Kevin Scott presents “The Voice of This Stone: Learning from Volcanic Disasters Around the World.” For more information visit: https://tinyurl.com/getoutdoorsvancouver.

New this year: From noon-2 p.m.Repair Clark County will be at Pearson Field Education Center, located next door to the activities at Fort Vancouver, will promote conservation by helping local residents repair damaged items, including outdoors gear and accessories. Skilled volunteers will donate their expertise and labor to help repair participant’s broken or damaged goods. For more info, visit: www.RepairClarkCounty.org.

National Get Outdoors Day is a national free event that encourages everyone, especially youth, to pursue healthy, active outdoor lifestyles – including experiences in our parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mt. Hood National Forests, Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, City of Vancouver, Parks Foundation of Clark County and other public, private, and non-profit groups partner together to present the annual event for residents of the greater Portland, Ore. and southwestern Washington metropolitan areas. 

Participating groups and activities include:

Bluegrass jam
Audubon Society
Bonneville Lock & Dam
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Parks & Recreation
Vancouver Urban Forestry
Water Resource Education Center
Vive Northwest
C-Tran
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Friends of Trees
Hike it Baby
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Master Gardeners
Friends of Fort Vancouver
Girl Scouts of OR & SW WA
National Wildlife Federation
Mount St. Helens Institute
Mt. Hood National Forest
Pacific Crest Trail Association
Quick Start Sports
Cascade Forest Conservancy
Silver Star Search & Rescue
Timber Lake Jobs Corps
SW WA Anglers
Kids Hiking
WA Trails Association
US Fish & Wildlife Service – National Wildlife Refuges
USDA Forest Service – Fire & Aviation
WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
Columbia River Gorge Nat’l Scenic Area
Glen’s Hands-On Gizmos
WA Timbers Football Club
Oregon Caves National Monument
OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science & Industry)
Ultimate Hunt
Backcountry Horsemen
Fishing
Pokemon Go
Urban Abundance
Waste Connections
Confluence Project

Visitors stroll exhibitor booths at the 2016 Get Outdoors Day event at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site June 11, 2016. USDA Forest Service file photo.
Visitors stroll exhibitor booths at the 2016 Get Outdoors Day event at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site June 11, 2016. USDA Forest Service file photo.

Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (press release)

Celebrate Smokey’s 75 years of wildland fire prevention!

Many forests and partners will host "Smokey's 75th birthday" events this summer. To find special events in your area as they are scheduled, check out https://www.smokeybear75th.org/.

Smokey Bear celebrates his 75th year of wildland fire prevention this summer. To celebrate, celebrities like Stephen Colbert, Al Roker, and Jeff Foxworthy have lent their voices to help spread Smokey’s message: “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

Learn more about Smokey’s history, find wildland fire prevention tips, children’s activities, and watch historical public service announcements alongside the new PSAs on Smokey Bear’s website: https://www.smokeybear.com/en (en español: https://www.smokeybear.com/es).

Celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday with us!

Stephen Colbert, Al Roker, and Jeff Foxworthy are among celebrities lending their voice to help share Smokey Bear’s message: “Only you can prevent wildfires” during the iconic spokesbear’s 75th year sharing fire prevention messaging for the USDA Forest Service and other land management agencies.

Source information: USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council

In the News: How to summit Mt. Hood safely

View of Mt. Hood from Timothy Lake with hillside trees and forest in the foreground, Mt Hood National Forest, Jan. 18, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

We talk a lot about the 10 Outdoor Essentials here at Your Northwest Forests, and there’s a reason for it- again and again, we’ve seen that when the unexpected occurs, just a little preparation can make the difference between an uncomfortable experience and a life-threatening emergency.

That goes even more so for technical climbing, such as the increasingly popular snow- and ice- covered climbs approaching the summit of mountains located just beyond the Pacific Northwest’s urban areas, like Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood.

This KGW-TV story, produced with assistance from volunteers from Portland Mountain Rescue, does a great job showing why the mountain appeals to so many – and why such climbs are so dangerous, even when many other visitors seem to be using the same route and summer weather is imminent.

Full story, via KGW.com: https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/key-safety-tips-for-climbing-mount-hood/283-bd294b2f-8499-4127-9863-dacc1887936e

When fire fights fire: Managing wildland fire risk through prescribed burns, active fire management

A wildland firefighter lights brush using a drip torch during a prescribed fire on the Colville National Forest April 9, 2001. Prescribed fires are typically set during the spring to improve forest health while weather conditions remain cool and the forest is still moist from spring rains, which allows fires to burn more slowly and with less intensity than fires that occur in the hot mid-summer months. USDA Forest Service photo.

Pacific Northwest communities have always lived with the risk of wildland fire – but our understanding of how we can manage that risk continues to evolve.

While many Native American tribes used fire as a tool to manage the landscape, the population growth that came with America’s westward expansion shifted land managers’ focus. People living in the west began to prioritize putting out wildland fires before they grew too large, or spread into their communities.

More than a century later, we’ve learned that fire is needed to keep many western ecosystems healthy – from releasing seeds of waxy ponderosa pinecones, to clearing land of invasive vegetation and creating more space for fire-resistant seeds of native grasses and wildflower species to germinate and thrive, providing the ideal food and habitat for many bugs, butterflies, and other wildlife that’s native to the area.

Land managers now know that preventing fires now can lead to more serious, more damaging fires later as more fuel accumulates on the forest floor – incinerating soils that would be enriched by less intense fire, and scorching even mature, thick-barked native trees past the point survival.

Without fire to clear smaller saplings and brush, trees become crowded – deprived of needed sunlight, susceptible to drought, and at greater risk of dying from diseases, parasites, and insect infestations.

In this video, Doug Grafe, fire protection chief for the Oregon Department of Forestry, explains how fuel reduction through active management and through prescribed fire can help with the prevention of catastrophic wildfires.


Source information: USDA Forest Service (via YouTube)

In the news: Snowshoe with a Ranger at Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie

Shot of a group of snowshoes on feet, gathered in a circle.

Exploring the outdoors is a passion for Rhonda Miller and Mackenzie Williams, and they’re equally passionate about sharing it with others – which is why they lead the “Shoeshoe with a Ranger” program at Stevens Pass on the Mt. Baker-Snoquamie National Forest.

On weekends through March 31, USDA Forest Service wilderness rangers lead visitors on guided, interpretive hikes, using snowshoes donated by outdoor equipment partner REI. The goal is to introduce new visitors to the forest, and the sport – especially those who may not have the experience, equipment, or confidence to head out into the woods on their own.


“There’s all this public land and we want people to benefit from it,” Williams said. “And we want people to enjoy their forest in a way that’s sustainable and allows them to continue enjoying it for a long time.”

Full story, via the Everett Herald:

“Snowshoe with a Ranger” at Stevens Pass is offered Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. through March 31. For locations and links to online registration info, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mbs/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD609539.

Mad River Trail gets BAER repairs; scheduled to re-open Spring 2019

Comparison - burned out and repaired sections of wooden retaining wall along the Mad River Trail

Until July 28, wooden walls provided a barrier to keep the neighboring hillside from eroding onto the the Mad River Trail.

But those walls burned, like so much else, when the Cougar Creek Fire burned through the area this summer.

Iron supports are all that remains of a wooden retaining wall on the Mad River Trail following the Cougar Creek fire.

Iron supports are all that remains of a wooden retaining wall on the Mad River Trail, and rocks and dirt had already begun to fall onto the trail before work performed to restore the wall in October, 2018. The work was part of the BAER, or Burned Area Emergency Response, work performed following the Cougar Creek fire, which started on July 28, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Sam Zook.

 

On a cloudy, slightly drizzly, day in late October, Forest Service trail and fire crews came together to rebuild 80 feet of soil retention walls on the Mad River Trail system.

“We knew from past experience the potential for a lot of erosion damage to occur to the trail in the areas where the walls had been,” Jon Meir, a recreation natural resources specialist for the Entiat Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, said. “Luckily, through funding and crews made available by BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response), we were able to quickly replace burned segments of the erosion protection walls.”

The BAER, or Burned Area Emergency Response program, provides funds and resources to perform emergency stabilization work after a serious fire. The work starts even before the fire is out, and may continue for up to a year after a large wildfire occurs.

The goal of BAER efforts is to prevent further damage to life, property or natural resources on national forest system lands.

Iron supports and a few boards are all that remains of a wooden retaining wall on the Mad River Trail following the Cougar Creek fire.

Iron supports and a few boards are all that remain of a wooden retaining wall on the Mad River Trail, and rocks and dirt had already begun to fall onto the trail before work performed to restore the wall in October, 2018. The work was part of the BAER, or Burned Area Emergency Response, work performed following the Cougar Creek fire, which started on July 28, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Sam Zook.

“We needed to get this work done prior to autumn rains, winter blizzards, and spring downpours which would likely have caused erosion and significant trail damage. This would have led to additional work to repair the trail, additional cost, and longer repair time next summer,” Meier said. “Effects were decreased because we were able to accomplish this work immediately after the fire.”

Replacement of soil retention walls is just one part of the repair work needed on the Mad River Trail, which remains closed until more repairs are completed, which is scheduled to happen in the spring, 2019.

A repaired wooden retaining wall along the Mad River Trail

A repaired wooden retaining wall along the Mad River Trail on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in October, 2018. The repair work was part of BAER, or Burned Area Emergency Response, efforts performed following the Cougar Creek fire, which started on July 28, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Sam Zook.

“We recognize this is a very popular trail system, and trail repairs will be made as soon as possible in spring 2019, in April if the weather allows. Other infrastructure repair work, such as bridge repairs, won’t occur until additional funding is available,” Meier said.

But the work done in October will ensure the public is able to use the trail sooner than if erosion had been allowed to continue damaging the trail throughout the winter months.

Meier he will welcome help from anyone who wants to donate time to helping get the trail re-opened as soon as possible in the spring.

“Our trail crew will be starting repairs this spring, and volunteers are always welcome to participate. Just give me a call if you are interested in helping out,” Meier said.


Source information: Robin DeMario is a public affairs specialist for Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

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