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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (press release)
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.”
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.
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)
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.”
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, 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 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 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.