Category Archives: USDA Forest Service

In the News: Campers leave ‘wildfires waiting to happen’

A campfire, photographed July 3, 2018 on the Malheur National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Shiloh Burton.

Apparently, not everyone is celebrating Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday this month by taking his “only you can prevent wildfires” message to heart:

More than 100 abandoned (or incompletely extinguished) campfires have been discovered by Mt. Hood National Forest visitors and staff in just the past six weeks.

Recreation was heavily impacted on Mt. Hood National Forest following the Eagle Creek fire in the nearby Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, which makes it a little bit surprising more campers haven’t taken campfire safety procedures to heart.

The good news is, other campers have been quick to help by reporting the unattended campfires they’ve discovered, and consistently cool evening temperatures and periodic rain has helped keep sparks from spreading the fires to nearby vegetation.

  • To enjoy your campfire safely: Check for local fire restrictions on the forest you are visiting. If fires are allowed, make sure the weather is calm – do not light a fire during windy conditions, which can carry sparks far from your campsite. Use the provided fire rings, or dig a fire pit surrounded by at least 10 feet of bare ground, and surround the pit with rocks. Keep a shovel and bucket filled with water nearby, and stack extra wood upwind and away from the fire.
  • To safely extinguish a campfire: Pour water on the fire, stir it into the coals and embers with a shovel, and continue adding water and stirring until all coals are thoroughly soaked and cold to the touch. (Make sure there are no warm embers still trapped beneath the top layers; such fires can smolder for hours or even days before reigniting when the materials around them dry out).

Full story, via The Weather Channel website: https://weather.com/news/news/2019-08-14-abandoned-campfires-mt-hood

Don't keep it lit, extinquish it: Follow the rule, stay until ashes are cool. Only you can prevent wildfires. Smokeybear.com. Ad Council illustration by Janna Mattia, released in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.
Don’t keep it lit, extinquish it: Follow the rule, stay until ashes are cool. Only you can prevent wildfires. Ad Council illustration by Janna Mattia, released in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.

For more wildfire prevention tips, visit SmokeyBear.com.

Look ‘beyond beauty’ during tour of Timberline Lodge Aug. 21

Barlow Road Carvings adorn the wall above a staircase at Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood National Forest in a Dec. 17, 2013 file photo. USDA Forest Service photo by Trent Deckard.

Timberline Lodge is an iconic example of early 20th century, arts-and-crafts movement-inspired artisanship. It’s also a study in contrasts – remote, yet accessible; rustic, yet grand; and designed to both help travelers experience nature, yet with all the comforts of home.

Inside, the lodge’s unique, hand-crafted furnishings were thoughtfully designed to instill a greater appreciation of the region’s history and culture. But, the designers also made mistakes while interpreting the native cultures and wildlife that inspired their work.

And, history is like that, Jay Horita said.

Horita is a resource assistant for the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest regional office. He’ll be hosting a pair of tours that focus on the lodge’s history and social context on Wednesday.

“A prominent thing that comes across is the duality of things, of public lands… we think of the beauty of it, the grandeur of it, the inspirational characters… What we don’t think of is all of the ugly things. That’s part of it, too,” he said.

Some examples of the iconic lodge’s blemishes are already well-known to visitors on previous tours.

Carvings on the great stone fireplace were inspired by the Tenino tribe in nearby Washington state, but the symbols used bear no resemblance to writing or artwork produced by any native Northwest tribes.

The ram’s head motif that appears throughout the lodge depict a species that isn’t native to Mount Hood (although the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep can found further east, on the other side of the Cascades).

Others blemishes are more subtle, like how many public lands were wrested from local native populations, who found themselves blocked from practicing traditional activities of the land even while it was being opened for access by the public at large.

 “I take people to the outside… You see everything from the steps of the Cascades to the dry, eastern part of Oregon. You see pockets of land that are completely shaved and bald. I talk about clearcutting, I talk about the industry of Oregon in the 1800s,” Horita said.

Horita said the focus for the tour is telling the whole story, the more complete story of the lodge.

“It’s not a pretty history,” he said. “But if you decide to wear something that says ‘Oregon native’ or ‘Portland native,’ you are unwittingly or unknowingly (representing) the ugly part of that history, not just the beautiful parts.”

Horita will host two guided tours of Timberline Lodge Aug. 21, 2019; at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tours will meet on the ground floor, in the main hall.

The USDA Forest ServiceMt. Hood National Forest’s ZigZag Ranger District coordinates guided tours of Timberline Lodge several times each month. Times and times will vary. For upcoming tours, contact the district’s Information Center by visiting in-person at 70220 US-26; Zigzag, OR, or call (503) 622-3191.

More information:

Timberline Lodge (hotel and visitor information)

Mt. Hood National Forest: Timberline Lodge history and facts

Friends of Timberline: About the Lodge

VIDEO: Timberline Lodge: A Sense of Place (Travel Oregon)

This Travel Oregon documentary delves into the fascinating history and modern-day opportunities available for visitors to Timberline Lodge, a 1937-era resort motel that was built on Mt. Hood National Forest by the Works Project Administration and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places even as it continues to operate as a vacation destination for both locals and national and international travelers to this day.

Timberline Lodge fast facts:

  • Timberline Lodge is a National Historic Landmark. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
  • The lodge first opened Feb. 4, 1938, following two years of construction (led by the Works Progress Administration).
  • It took an estimated 760,000 person hours to build the lodge, including original artwork and artisan-made furnishings. One goal of the project was to train tradesmen and craftsmen, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” Hundreds of people worked on the site daily. Workers lived in a tent city, outside nearby Government Camp, and new construction crews were rotated in every two weeks.
  • Timberline Lodge is publicly-owned, and privately-operated. Approximately 2 million people visit the lodge each year; as hotel guests, for weddings, to enjoy a meal, or to view the one-of-a-kind architecture and fixtures while hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing the many nearby trails on Mt. Hood National Forest.
  • Many of interior fixtures are fashioned from recycled materials: scraps old Civilian Conservation Corps uniforms were latch-hooked into new woolen rugs, cedar utility poles were used as newel posts, and tire chains and old railroad tracks were fashioned into andirons and other ironwork.
  • Much of the interior artwork was created by WPA artists hired through the Federal Art Project. Botanical prints displayed in many guest rooms depict local native plants, illustrated by artists who worked on-site during the lodge’s construction.
  • The exterior of Timberline Lodge may look familiar to some horror fans; it stood in for the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining.” (The interior sets were based on the Ahwahnee Hotel, in Yosemite National Park, which is about a decade older than Timberline Lodge. Both hotels were designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who is sometimes called “the Parkitect” because for designing several of the well-known grand hotels from this era. The hotel in the novel was inspired by the Stanley Hotel, in Colorado, and is where the TV mini-series based on the book was filmed).

Source information: Catherine Caruso is the strategic communications lead for USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communication and Community Engagement, and edits the Your Northwest Forests blog.

Siuslaw NF seeks outfitter-guide proposals

A dune buggy ferries passengers touring a sandy path through a portion of the Siuslaw National Forest.

(Permisos para guías y proveedores de equipamiento: information en español)

CORVALLIS, Ore. (July 29, 2019)  USDA Forest Service officials are seeking proposals from individuals, businesses, or organizations interested in offering outfitter or guiding opportunities on the Siuslaw National Forest.

This request for proposals, or RFP, is not a formal application process. The RFP is intended to determine the level of interest and identify next steps for issuing outfitter and guide special use permits to interested parties.

Outfitters and guides – who typically offer opportunities such as gear and equipment rentals or recreation experiences led by an expert guide to paying customers – are required to have a special use permit issued by the Forest Service to operate on national forest lands and waters.

Depending on the level of interest expressed in response to this request for proposals, the process for issuing special use permits may be competitive or noncompetitive.

“Outfitters and guides are important partners,” Dani Pavoni, recreation lead for the Siuslaw National Forest, said. “They help open the doors to experiences for people who may not have the skills, experience, or equipment needed to do it on their own, and they help people experience the national forest in new and exciting ways. ”

Pavoni said the forest’s leadership is especially committed to connecting children with nature and partnering with organizations who provide quality outdoor opportunities, and especially encouraged outfitter and guides offering programs that serve youth and historically under-served populations or communities to submit proposals in response to the forest’s RFP.

Proposals are being accepted through Sept. 20, 2019.

More information and proposal documents can be found here.

Questions about special use permits and this request for proposals can be directed to Chris LaCosse, forest recreation specialist, at (541) 271-6017 or SM.FS.SiuNFComment@usda.gov.


Source information: Siuslaw National Forest (press release)

Forest Feature: Bigfoot

Someone you might see on the National Forest: Bigfoot/Sasquatch, pictured here. Sasquatches have been seen running away from a wildfire. Please be careful with fire when you are visiting their neighborhood.

It comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. It’s an animal today, but a plant the next? Few see it, but it sees all. It (allegedly) LOVES Nutella! It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It’s the last of its kind, a true legend. That’s right, this month’s Forest Feature honors the Pacific Northwest’s most unique forest creature: BIGFOOT!

Lurking always just out of sight, our friendly 8-or-more-feet-tall, gentle giant of the Pacific Northwest has (reportedly) graced us with its presence for decades now.

Some say that its large stature belies an otherwise congenial attitude towards other forest-dwelling creatures.

However in times past and present, many have described a “wild man” or “hairy man” stealing food from unwary hikers.

Some anthropologists and dedicated Bigfoot-hunters have devoted their lives to revealing its secrets; but in true bigfoot-style, the creature remains largely unexposed. You won’t even find it posting on Instagram (although you may find many imposters posing for a Kodak moment).

Did you know?

  • Bigfoot, sometimes known as Sasquatch, is also rumored to be a shapeshifter
  • The highest number of Bigfoot sightings is in Clackamas County (Oregon), along Hwy 244.
  • The Blue Mountains is allegedly one of its favorite spots, and where parts of the 1995 film “Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter” were filmed (the story is set in Shaver Lake, Calif. and in the Modoc National Forest, also in California).
  • The first motion picture footage (alleged to be) of the elusive, notoriously camera-shy creature is known as the Petterson-Gimlin film, filmed in 1967.

This month, we have no photos of Bigfoot to share… but we do have a coloring page depicting an artist’s conception of Bigfoot in its natural habitat, created by the Jimmye Turner, a USDA Forest Service fire prevention specialist on the Umatilla National Forest.

We also have a drawing activity to help students draw on their creativity, curiosity, and to inspire questions about the many adaptations animals have evolved to meet the challenges of their environment.

While some of you may not be Bigfoot believers, Bigfoot offers a wonderful opportunity to talk about fire prevention during the hottest month of the year, the unexplored and undiscovered aspects of our forest’s wild and wilderness areas, and the importance of preserving habitat before more species become scarce, and seemingly as difficult to find as Bigfoot has proved to be.

Both of these resources are fun for all ages, but are especially suited to students in early elementary school (grades K-4).

Gather stories about Bigfoot in your own communities, use its mystique to inspire stewardship of the forest!

Resources:

Someone you might see on the National Forest: Bigfoot/Sasquatch, pictured here. Sasquatches have been seen running away from a wildfire. Please be careful with fire when you are visiting their neighborhood.
A coloring page, featuring Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch). USDA Forest Service illustration by Jimmye Turner, Umpqua National Forest staff.

Source information: Forest Features highlight a new Pacific Northwest species (or sometimes, a family, order, kingdom, or genus) each month as part of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s regional youth engagement strategy.

If you’d like fact sheets, activities, or links to other educational resources about this topic – and for information about other ways the Forest Service can help incorporate environmental education and forest science in your classroom – email YourNorthwestForests@fs.fed.us.

Fire season safety tips for smoke-sensitive persons, drivers

Smoke blowing over a roadway nearly obscures USDA Forest Service wildland fire truck (WA-OWF E644) and a wildland firefighter from the camera's view.

While the “fire season” is off to a slower-than-normal start in many parts of the Pacific Northwest, fires like the Milepost 97 are here and ready to remind fire isn’t the only seasonal hazard to watch for. There are also two, other, closely related risks faced by our firefighters and our community during the season: smoke and motor vehicle traffic.

Even small fires can send a lot of smoke into nearby roadways. Sometimes, even smoke drift from distant fires can create enough haze to reduce visibility. That reduced visibility is a risk to pedestrians, other motorists (including those in or responding to disabled vehicles along the road shoulder), and even firefighters working nearby.

If you’re traveling in areas with nearby fire activity, be careful and use extra caution. In addition to reduced or poor visibility, you may encounter heavy equipment and firefighting trucks on the road. Drive carefully, slow down, and give plenty of space to firefighters and fire vehicles. Use extra caution when driving in smoke-filled conditions; debris, disabled vehicles and pedestrians may be concealed from view until you’re vehicle is just a few feet away.

Follow these tips to keep yourself and others, including firefighters and smoke-sensitive loved ones, safe!

  • If your travel plans require you to drive on routes that are impacted by fire or firefighting activity, consider alternate travel dates and/or routes.
  • If you must drive, pay close attention to road closures and warnings.
  • Be alert! Fire activity and subsequent operations can change quickly.  Adapt driving patterns accordingly and always yield to emergency responders.
  • Navigation applications on smart phones or other devices (GPS / maps) may not accurately reflect changing conditions. Watch out for changing local conditions and detours.
  • Plan ahead. If you live in a fire-prone area (which is all of us, in the Pacific Northwest!), keep your gas tank filled at least 3/4 full at all times. Maintain a clean air filter, and carry paper map or road atlas to assist you in travelling in areas with limited cell phone reception. Bring an extra cell phone charger (and battery back-up); make sure you have a spare tire and jack; and carry extra water, food, a first aid kit and a blanket in your vehicle at all times.
  • Remove unnecessary flammables from the vehicle, such as containers of gas and oil.
  • Stay calm and focus on driving tasks. Drivers should not be texting, taking photos or video footage, no matter what is unfolding around them!
  • Keep headlights “on” for safety when driving.
  • Keep vehicle windows closed when travelling through smoke, and close all exterior air vents; set air conditioning to the “recirculation” setting.
  • Smoke-filled air can also impact health at home, particularly for young children, the elderly, and for people with chronic heart or lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and COPD. If possible, maintain a “clean room” at home in which air can be filtered by an appropriately-sized filtration system; ideally, a True HEPA filter rated to remove 99.97% of particles of .3 microns or larger, paired with an activated charcoal filter to trap volatile organic compounds. (An air ionizer may also be helpful, but discuss your plans with a doctor as not everyone is a good candidate. Those with sensitive lungs should only run an ionizer while away from home to avoid breathing ionized particles, and people who are sensitive to ozone should not use ionizers).
  • Plan ahead! It’s important for everyone to have an emergency evacuation plan, but it is especially important for those with special needs, pets, or who do not have access to a motor vehicle to plan ahead. Find advice on emergency preparedness planning at RedCross.org and at Ready.gov.

Planning travel, and need the latest traffic, smoke and safety updates? These websites can help!

Why are bark beetles attracted to heat-stressed trees? Alcohol, new study says

Close-up image of a red turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus valens).

Foresters have long known that trees under stress from fire injury are vulnerable to bark beetle attacks. Now, Rick Kelsey and Doug Westlind, researchers with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, have developed a model that explains how physiological changes cause heat stress in woody tissues, even after exposure to less-than-lethal fire temperatures, and produce a chemical signal that attracts some bark beetles.

When heat disrupts normal cell functions, the tree produces ethanol as a short-term survival strategy.

And if enough ethanol accumulates, mixes with volatile organic compounds in the tree’s resin, and is released to the atmosphere, the combination has proved to be a strong attractant for red turpentine beetles.

A man in protective hat, vest inspects a tall, hanging series of cones.
Retired Forest Service scientist Rick Kelsey collects bark beetles captured in funnel traps following a prescribed fire in Oregon. Understanding the interplay between tree response to heat stress and certain insects can help forest managers design fuel-reduction treatments to achieve specific outcomes. USDA Forest Service photo.

Kelsey and Westlind showed that ethanol interacts synergistically with 3-carene, a dominant ponderosa pine resin monoterpene. In a trapping study, red turpentine beetles were more attracted to lures combining ethanol and 3-carene than lures with ethanol or 3-carene alone.

Understanding ecosystem responses to fire can help managers characterize forest health and plan for post-fire management.

The results also hold promise for developing simple ethanol detection methods for monitoring tree stress.

Real-time feedback on ethanol levels could help forest managers quickly assess which trees to cull after a fire, and which to leave in place.

Learn more in the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station’s Science Findings 217, at https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/58195.

Ethanol dissipation mechanisms: diffusion, sapflow, and metabolism with relative rates at ambient conditions. Ethanol is metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase to acetaldehyde (Zanon et al. 2007), which is converted by aldehyde dehydrogenase to acetate, which is converted by acetyl-CoA synthase into acetyl-CoA (MacDonald and Kimmerer 1993, Gass et al. 2005). The latter can enter the tricarboxylic acid or glyoxylate cycles or be used to synthesize lipids depending on heat damage to membranes and enzymes. Ethanol dissipation mechanisms: diffusion, sapflow, and metabolism with relative rates at ambient conditions. Ethanol is metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase to acetaldehyde (Zanon et al. 2007), which is converted by aldehyde dehydrogenase to acetate, which is converted by acetyl-CoA synthase into acetyl-CoA (MacDonald and Kimmerer 1993, Gass et al. 2005). The latter can enter the tricarboxylic acid or glyoxylate cycles or be used to synthesize lipids depending on heat damage to membranes and enzymes.
As ethanol accumulates in the tree, it immediately begins to dissipate via (1) diffusion, (2) sapflow, and (3) metabolism. Each process is affected differently by the heat-stress mechanism the tissues and whole tree experience. USDA Forest Service illustration (originally published at https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/5/443/3746565).

Source information: USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station (Science Findings 217). The research station – headquartered in Portland, Ore. – generates and communicates scientific knowledge to help people make informed choices about natural resources and the environment. The station has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon and about 300 employees. Learn more at https://www.fs.usda.gov/pnw/