GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL SOLICITORS AND ADVERTISERS:
DO NOT CONTACT THE COLESTIN RURAL FIRE DISTRICT BY ANY MEANS, INCLUDING PHONE CALLS, ELECTRONIC MAIL,
INSTANT MESSAGING, OR STANDARD POSTAL MAIL. PERSISTENCE IN DOING SO MAY RESULT IN LEGAL ACTION.
UPDATE: The fire danger level has dropped to HIGH as of Thurs. 9/22.
Regulated activities that have been under a 24-hour total shutdown are now prohibited only from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm.
We are still in fire season. All open burning, burn barrels and fireworks remain prohibited. Additional fire danger regulations also remain in effect.
The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) remains at Level 2 (two).
For full details, see our Current Fire Danger & Fire Season Restrictions page.
Prepare Out Loud - Presented by The Red Cross - Cascades Region
Thurs., October 6th - 5:30-7:00 pm in Medford:
From the promotional flyer:
"Learn the facts. Take action. Talk about it."
"Together we can rise to the challenge of a Cascadia Earthquake."
Register at: redcross.org/PrepareOutLoudMedford
"The American Red Cross Prepare Out Loud presentation will empower you to be ready for disasters of all kinds (including a Cascadia earthquake) by taking practical steps to start preparing, being vocal about your preparedness and encouraging others to start preparing."
Learn more about:
• The science and history of the Cascadia Subduction Zone
• Human behavior during disasters
• What to expect during and after a Cascadia earthquake
• How to prepare to quickly locate your loved ones following a disaster
• How much food, water, and supplies you will need to take care of yourself and others
FREE TO ATTEND.
WHEN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2016 - 5:30 – 7:00 pm
WHERE: Asante’s Smullin Health Education
View the event flyer: Prepare Out Loud Medford 6 Oct. 2016 FLYER (pdf)
Register at: redcross.org/PrepareOutLoudMedford
A huge thanks to everyone who attended our Annual Community Picnic on Sunday, September 11, at the Hilt Church!
We had a wonderful turn-out from the community - one of the best in all-time memory! It was great to see so many familiar faces, and also to see and meet many new, and many younger, community members - a happy sign that we are an ever-evolving district with a future!
A warm thanks to all those who also purchased one of our District fundraising T-shirts . We sold out of Large, XL and larger; there are only a few Medium and Smalls left. And we sold out of hats! This was beyond our wildest expectations (or we would have ordered more shirts!).
A very warm thanks also to those who made personal money donations to the District - this is what enables us to purchase non-budgeted special needed equipment, and to afford other items or activities beyond our usual operating budget.
Dollars received from donations and proceeds made from fundraising shirts and hats is crucial for us to function as an effective fire district, and supports our essential mission in numerous ways. (See fundraising for more info.) A huge thanks to everyone who contributed in these ways.
We hope that everyone who attended, as well as those who did/could not, will stay connected with us and will decide to become involved in the District at a future point, if possible, and will, in any case, always be an active, mindful participant in our fire prevention and fire safety efforts.
Thank you all so much for your involvement and interest in every way in your volunteer fire district!
Shirts: The 2016 shirts (designed by CRFD Board member and professional artist Pam Haunschild) are khaki-colored, 100% cotton, with a pocket. The slogan on the back says “It’s No Joke: We Eat Smoke!," with "2016 Colestin Volunteer Firefighter" beneath. Everyone who buys (or bought) one of these new shirts supports our district as an "honorary firefighter." (See images on our fundraising page.)
(Active firefighters received their own complimentary T-shirt in special limited-edition navy blue with last year's "The hottest job on Earth!" design; these are/were not for sale to the public - they are just for our volunteers.) Firefighters who were unable to attend the picnic and have not yet picked up their T-shirt should contact Board members Pam Haunschild or Cindy Warzyn to get theirs.
FYI, picnics are also archived on our events page.
Can you help us by providing a clean water source for our fire trucks?
We need more emergency-use clean water sources within our district for our fire trucks.
Although our current water source, through the Fruit Growers Supply Co. in Hilt, is abundant, the natural sediment in the water adversely affects our district equipment and clogs the mechanism on our water tender.
Fruit Growers will begin cleaning their water source, which will help greatly. Meanwhile, we also have two new sources for clean water on private properties in other sections of the south end of the valley. All of these changes increase the fire protection potential of the south end of the valley.
Ideally, however, we would like to have a handful of additional sources in the central and upper areas of our district as well.
For our purposes, water quality does not need to be potable drinkable water, only free of significant sediment or debris. Clean water storage is best done in flushable tanks (that can be cleaned out periodically) and that are buried below the ground surface, to limit the formation of algae.
We also would like to identify additional emergency-use general-quality water sources that already exist within our district, as well as general-quality sources that could be developed, ideally also in a handful of different locations throughout the district.
General-quality water sources can be ponds, portable pools, etc., that can be drafted from or if large enough, used for bucket drops. We have several lower-valley sources already; having several others higher up would give us a greater advantage in a fire emergency.
Depending on the particular circumstances, we may be able to assist with funding for new water sources for the fire district's emergency use with a portion of grant money.
If you would be willing to host a clean or other type of water source on your property within our district for fire district emergency use, please contact either our Fire Chief, Steve Avgeris, or CRFD Board member Teri Thomas, to discuss details.
"If you fly, we can't."
Tues. August 9th: ODF issued a Public Service Announcement news release regarding the use of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems), also known as drones, within proximity of firefighting operations:
"However, aircraft cannot be used to fight fire if UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems), more commonly known as drones, are detected above or within a 5-mile radius of a wildfire. Both UAS and firefighting aircraft fly at low altitudes creating the potential for a mid-air collision which can injure or kill firefighters in the sky, crews on the ground, and the neighboring public.
"This dangerous situation is why we ground all aircraft until UAS are removed from a wildfire. While aircraft is suspended, wildfires have the capacity to grow larger threatening more lives and property.
"Please join the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District in sharing our message: ‘If you fly, we can't!’ Together, we can keep everyone in the air and on the ground safe allowing us to attack and suppress wildfires faster than if we worked alone.
"Below is the link to our PSA and our Facebook page where the message is currently posted. Please share it on all platforms so that we may educate the public on keeping drones away from wildfires."
For further information, see:
Cal Fire - "If You Fly, We Can't" - Fire Safety Education/Communications:
National Interagency Fire Center - Public Information Office
Drones in the news:
"Brian Ballou, a fire prevention specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the agency is asking drone pilots not to launch their aircraft within five miles of a visible smoke plume. // 'If we see any of these going up, we have to shut down all air operations'. . . "
Legalities have changed with the new FAA rules in 2016:
"Man suspected of flying drone over Trailhead Fire arrested," The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA., July 15, 2016 (http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article90002152.html); an introductory excerpt follows:
[A similar report was also published in The Mail Tribune, Medford,
OR., Sun. July 17, 2016, p. 1A, left sidebar under "West,"
as "Man arrested for flying drone over fire." According
to the Mail Tribune's report, [CA State fire spokesman Daniel] Berlant
says there have been dozens of similar drone incursions in fire areas
over the past two years but [Eric] Wamser] is the first person arrested
by state fire investigators."
“Before Wildfire Strikes! A Handbook for Homeowners and Communities in Southwest Oregon” is an excellent new (Dec. 2015) guide for helping us all to prepare for and survive wildfire.
Written by Kara Baylog and Max Bennett of Jackson and Josephine County Emergency Management in collaboration with numerous other local agencies, it offers very usable information on topics essential to successful wildfire prevention and survival:
"This is a manual that helps homeowners and neighborhoods prepare their areas and their homes for wildfire. A fire-adapted community is a community located in a fire-prone area that requires little assistance from firefighters during a wildfire. Residents of these communities accept responsibility for living in a high fire-hazard area. They possess the knowledge and skills to prepare their homes and property to survive wildfire; evacuate early, safely and effectively; and survive, if trapped by wildfire." [Quote from the OSU Extension Service's website.]
We encourage you to take
advantage of this informational resource in your planning and activities
as you prepare for fire season by renewing and/or expanding your fuel
breaks and reducing fuel loads around your home this spring.
**FIREFIGHTER TRAINING for the 2016 season is now concluded. It began in April and was held every other week through June. See our training page for details.
Anyone with questions about firefighter training should contact Chief Steve Avgeris. General details and requirements are always available on our training page, along with info on previous seasonal training programs.
FYI: Live Fire Training - 9:30 am Thurs. June 23rd in Central Point:
"Fire crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry and Fire District 3 will participate in Live Fire Training on Thursday, June 23rd. The training will be at the intersection of Truax and Newland roads, Central Point. This type of training allows firefighting crews to closely mimic a brush fire in a controlled environment that the fire training staff monitors. Firefighters will work on mobile attack, pump-and-roll tactics, burnout operations, and fire ground communications to refresh skills needed for the upcoming fire season..." Full media advisory release.
Citizen Fire Academy began June 1st,
This program, offered through the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center, is for anyone interested to become better prepared for wildfire, and to be able to help others in the community become better prepared in turn. Kara Baylog, SOREC's OSU Program Assistant [for] Forestry and Natural Resources, says:
View/download the Citizen Fire Academy brochure to learn more and to register. You can also register directly at: https://secure.oregonstate.edu/osuext/register/1014. [Registration [was] required by May 20th. Registration is closed for this year.]
For further information or if you have questions, you can call Kara Baylog at 541-776-7371 or email her from the link on the Citizen Fire Academy brochure (p. 2, left side).
"Creating fire-adapted communities through Education and Volunteer Service."
April 30th, 2016, was National PrepareAthon Day; May 1 through May 7 was Wildfire Awareness Week and lead up to the NFPA’s national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Sat. May 7th:
"Join individuals and groups of all ages on May 7, and participate in national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities that will make your community safer from the impacts of future and past wildfires. [ . . .]
"Your actions will contribute to increasing the safety of both residents and wildland firefighters. Commit a couple of hours or an entire day to helping your community and accomplish something great!"
"The 125 recipients of a $500 project funding award were selected March 1; recipients will utilize the money to complete a risk reduction, post-fire or preparedness activity/event on May 7. The monetary awards were sponsored by State Farm, a co-sponsor of the third annual nationwide campaign."
The 2016 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day campaign is co-sponsored and supported by the NFPA and State Farm.
Learn more online at:
For project ideas (and safety tips), see under the paragraph heading "How Do I Start?" (near the top, under the banner).
For social media, use: #WildfirePrepDay.
Leading up to and following the NFPA's Wildfire Preparedness Day on May 7th [was] a series of additional highlighted events sponsored by FEMA:
April 10 – 16: Flood Awareness Week
April 17 – 23: Tornado Awareness Week
April 24 – 30: Lead up to National PrepareAthon! Day
April 30th (Sat.) - National PrepareAthon Day - Learn how to prepare for emergencies!
May 1 – 7: Wildfire Awareness Week and lead up to NFPA’s national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (May 7)
May 15 – 21: Hurricane Awareness Week
May 22 – 28: Extreme Heat Week
The 2016-2017 Fiscal Budget: The 2016-2017 Provisional Budget was approved and adopted as the 2016-2017 Final Budget by the Board at its May 10th meeting. The Final Budget is available on our Budget page.
SURPLUS FOREST SEEDLINGS - posted 12 March 2016:
The U.S. Forest Service has a limited supply of surplus forest seedlings available to the public right now on a first-come, first-served basis. (This was announced in approx. mid-February; sales of remaining surplus stock will be open until May 1st.)
Seedlings are pre-packaged in boxes of various commercial quantities and will not be re-packaged for smaller quantities. Prices, however, are very reasonable; large quantities can be shared with neighbors and friends who also may be interested.
For information about seedling types, seed sources, quantities, etc., and to place an order, contact Juan Ortiz, U.S.F.S. Admin Operations Specialist,at the J. Herbert Stone Nursery at 2606 Old Stage Rd. in Central Point, OR., at: 541-858-6100.
Will you be doing any landscaping on your property this spring?
Another OSU Extension brochure of interest is "A Land Manager's Guide for Creating Fire-Resistant Forests," also available online.
Brochures are also available at Jackson County's OSU partnership office, the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center (SOREC), at 569 Hanley Road, Central Point OR 97503; Phone: (541) 776-7371 Fax: (541) 773-7373; Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.
FYI: IS IT A PRESCRIBED BURN, A CONTROLLED SLASH BURN, OR A FIRE?
Specific information on prescribed burns within our district will normally always be posted here on our website as soon as we receive notice.
We are notified ahead of any prescribed (ODF-approved) burning, even though there is often not a lot of warning, as approval from the ODF depends upon the latest weather and other local conditions.
If we have not posted a prescribed burn notice on this page (at the top) and you're unsure if you're seeing a controlled slash burn, call us - it's far better to err on the side of caution.
If a burn cannot be determined to be a controlled burn, or for slash burns that may have gone out of control, don't take a chance - just call 9-1-1.
Note: We don't require burning permits when slash burning is allowed (only before and after fire season), but everyone conducting any outdoor burning is urged to let us know ahead of such activities, to avoid false alarms and as a general safety precaution.
(Info on previous prescribed burns conducted by Lomakatsi is available below.)
LOCAL ROAD SAFETY: Speeding on Colestin Road is both illegal and highly dangerous. PLEASE OBSERVE POSTED SPEED LIMITS AND SLOW DOWN AROUND BLIND CURVES OR DIPS (LOW SECTIONS).
Also, DRIVE ONLY ON THE RIGHT SIDE (LANE) OF THE ROAD - NOT IN THE CENTER.
This warning is in response to some near-misses in recent months: we don't want to be responding to serious medical incidents that can be avoided. Please DRIVE SAFELY. Thank you.
ALERT: Many trees weakened by drought stress over the past two years may be vulnerable to toppling unexpectedly due to saturated soils, winds, and/or heavy snow loads.
If you are aware of leaning or weakened trees near your residence or driveway that may be a safety hazard, have a professional deal with them properly. (If you aren't able to locate someone, call us and we will try to assist you to find someone qualified.)
If you see a problem near or on a public roadway, please report it to local authorities (or provide us with the necessary information and we will forward it to the proper authorities).
RECENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES:
LIVING ON YOUR LAND (LOYL) CONFERENCE: Saturday, April 16, 2016
"On Saturday, April 16, The Land Steward Program of Oregon State University Extension Service will present a one-day conference on the beautiful campus grounds at The Redwood Campus of Rogue Community College in Grants Pass.
"This conference is for people who own land or who are thinking about owning land in Southern Oregon.
"You will be able to choose 4 classes from 20 offerings. Presenters with experience in forest health, building better soil techniques, living in a fire-prone environment, beekeeping techniques, water storage, native-American land steward techniques, urban homesteading, botany and birding classes will be conducting the classes...
Classes run from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and are offered in 4 time blocks (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon) with an hour break for lunch.
"The cost of the “Living on Your Land” Conference is $50, which includes coffee and snack breaks. A fabulous lunch is available for an additional $10. The registration deadline [was] Friday, April 8..." Classes fill quickly so early registration is advised.
To view/download the conference brochure with full information and course listings, visit: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/forestry and http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/land-steward-program.
This event, presented by the Jackson County Office of the OSU Extension and FREE to the public, was held at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center at 569 Hanley Road in Central Point (in the Auditorium building).
"Taking care of your forest land through reduction of fuels, habitat restoration projects, and perhaps even a timber sale is a great idea. But for most projects to be done out in your forest, there needs to be a way to bring out equipment; from personal vehicles to chippers and log trucks.
"Well maintained roads not only help you finish the project work you want to do on your property, they can also help suppression efforts when wildfire comes. Wide, cleared roads with good ingress and egress can prove invaluable for fire fighters needing to access remote locations and stop the spread of fire.
"Join us for a discussion on good forest infrastructure, and what is needed to mitigate the impacts of entry while maximizing the benefits to access from the perspective of forest management and fire protection.
"Steve Bowers is the OSU Extension Specialist in Forest Harvesting under the College of Forestry: Forest Engineering, Resources & Management. His extensive work include resources on managing woodland roads and timber harvesting.
"Matt Hilliker is the Wildland Coordinator for the Jackson County Fire District #5 and runs the Wildfire Training and Certification program and Fire-Adapted Communities program and is a wildfire instructor at Rogue Community college. He has 10 years of experience with the Oregon Department of Forestry as a Crew Captain, Engine Captain and Fire/Fuels Mitigation Specialist."
FYI: Want to know what's going on in the district? The latest available Board minutes are always posted on our Board Minutes page.
We have not had back-up support from the Hornbrook Volunteer Fire Department, our next-closest fire agency, since early in 2014; however, this may soon change, following the recent Nov. 3rd special election for Hornbrook's board of directors.
UPDATE: A TV news story on Sun. Nov. 15th reported that with the newly elected board, volunteer firefighters will be returning to service in the department sometime within the next week. Details will follow here as soon as we are able to learn them.
The backstory (all listed articles published by the Siskiyou Daily News (Yreka, CA), posted online):
"Supes set election to reinstate Hornbrook fire board," Wed., Aug. 5, 2015: "After nearly 16 months without a fire department, the Siskiyou County Board Of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to call a special election for board members for Hornbrook’s fire protection district. [. . .] "Controversy within the Hornbrook Fire Department began on Feb. 27, when the entire department quit. [. . .] "The election will be held November 3, 2015..."
The Siskiyou Rail Line is back in operation as of November 10th, 2015:
According to the recent news report, "Freight service over Siskiyou Pass starts today," (Mail Tribune online, Tues. Nov. 10, 2015): "The Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad has begun sending freight trains over the entire 296-mile short line between Eugene and Weed after spending $13 million for the Siskiyou Summit Railroad Revitalization project. The resumption of train traffic on the Siskiyou Line south of Ashland means veneer and other wood products from the region can be shipped by rail. CORP plans to send about 12 freight trains over the tracks each day."
Previously, ODOT's Moving Ahead publication on Sept. 25th, 2015 (included with the 9/25/15 Mail Tribune), stated that, "Major repairs to the Siskiyou Rail Line are on schedule so that the line is expected to reopen by mid-November. // "Freight service on the historic line, which first opened in December 1887 and runs 95 miles from Ashland to Weed [CA], stopped in 2008. // "The Siskiyou Summit Railroad Revitalization project is repairing and revitalizing a 65-mile section of the 296-mile stretch of the short line railroad, including rail, tunnels, ties and bridges as well as upgrading its freight capacity to handle the 286,000-pound industry standard for rail cars." The line, when re-opened, will provide service five days a week between Weed, CA., and Medford, OR., with one train in each direction running on those days; each train will have 12 to 14 cars.
While the expanded shipping opportunities for regional companies with the re-opening of the rail line are great, we are still concerned by the rail's transit through our valley as a source of potential fire sparks, as this has been a very significant issue in the past. While we hope that recently completed repairs to the line will have alleviated most, if not all, of the sources of potential fire sparking along the tracks, we will be monitoring the trains once the line re-opens as we previously have, particularly during fire season.
For more information, see "Reopening Siskiyou Rail Line," by Brad Hicks, ODOT, Moving Ahead, September, 2015, and "Siskiyou Rail Line Repair - November reopening," ODOT, Moving Ahead, September, 2015.
Are you interested in becoming a weather spotter?
The National Weather Service recently invited weather watchers to a
FREE severe weather spotter training program. The spotter class was
held Thursday, October 8th, 2015, between 6 and 8
pm at the Carnegie Library, 413 West Main Street, Medford.
If you are interested in a future class, contact the National Weather Service in Medford. For details on the recent class, see the flyer. [Information is from Ryan Sandler of the National Weather Service in Medford.]
SHAKEOUT OREGON last took place on Thurs., October 15th, 2015; the Oregon Office of Emergency Management states that "ShakeOut participants included businesses, schools, local, state, and federal government organizations, and many others. The worldwide drill is conducted to practice earthquake safety and promote emergency preparedness." According to an OOEM news release, "Approximately 540,000 Oregonians participated in this year's Great Oregon ShakeOut." Learn more.
Fire Season and Defensible Space:
Fire officials at all levels are expecting this fire season to become a very challenging, costly, and potentially devastating one.
A news report carried in the Mail Tribune, Thurs. June 18, 2015, pg. A2,, "Southern Oregon is drying out early," by Ian Campbell, underscores the situation (an original version of this article by Ian Campbell was published in the Roseburg News-Review as "Oregon's drought to lead to extensive and expensive fire season):
Temperatures have been extreme for extended periods, with the month of June being the hottest June on record. (See the Mail Tribune 6/28/15 (Sun.) article, "Week's temperatures forecast to peak at 111 on Thursday.")
A later news story summarizes the above reports: FIRE POTENTIAL IN THE WEST, 2015: "Dry Days Bring Ferocious Start to Fire Season: Officials are warning about the potential for more catastrophe in the months ahead, as drought, heat and climate change leave the landscape ever thirstier," a frontpage article in The New York Times, August 1st, 2015, available online at: http://nyti.ms/1LX8gcm.
Lightning, always the wild card, is a very serious concern in this setting. In addition, it strikes the ground more often in drier years, increasing the potential for new fires.
To minimize your wildfire risk, we urge you to create or renew fuel breaks (cleared areas, or continuous perimeters without any flammable fuels) to reduce potential fuel loads around your home and other structures. This is essential to making your home and property more defensible.
Prioritize by eliminating fuels in a primary, secondary, and third zone outward from your home: mow down tall weeds, which dry out sooner and become flash fuels; take out any dead trees and shrubs; remove leaves, needles and other debris from roofs and around structures; and remove any ladder fuels (branches or other potential fuels that lower toward the ground) that fire can use to climb. Relocate wood piles to at least 30 feet away from structures. Relocate items stored under decks and porches, and screen or box in areas under decks and porches with wire screening no larger than 1/8" mesh to help keep embers out during a fire.
As always, the CRFD encourages our residents to engage in wildfire fuel-thinning projects when and where possible, and in general, to establish and maintain fuel breaks around homes and other structures.
See our Wildland Fire Prevention page as well as reviewing information on some possible fuel-thinning assistance sources (below on this page):
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, run out of the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Service Office.
Grants and other funding assistance for fuel-thinning projects may also be available through the sources listed here.
It is instructive to remember that the 1981 Colestin Fire occurred in fire season conditions very similar to what we appear to be facing now.
The winter of 1980-81 was one of only four over the past 35 years on record as "years with low snowpack," and one of the two years out of the same four low-snowpack years when "dry conditions persisted through the winter," resulting in "extreme" fire danger conditions earlier than usual that fire season.*
Sparks from young children playing with matches in the yard of a home along Colestin Road near what was then the historic Colestin Stage Stop Hotel, owned by the Avgeris family, ignited the underbrush and rapidly involved the tinder-dry forest.
Driven by highly erratic, shifting winds that afternoon through the steep, rugged terrain, the fire grew to hundreds of acres within a mere handful of hours.
Firefighting efforts by the five fire agencies that responded from outside of the area assisted by the CCC and two other hot-shot crews were severely challenged by the fire's crazy path as it changed directions numerous times, at one point almost reaching Mt. Ashland Road.
Ultimately, while no lives were lost and only three minor structures were consumed, over 540 acres burned (some accounts say over 700 acres), including two million board feet of timber; damage to the local watershed was also extensive. Altogether, the Colestin Fire took more than 700 firefighters and three days to contain; firefighting costs topped $1 million.
At the same time that season, at temperatures of over 100 degrees in some areas and also in bone-dry conditions, a dozen other major fires burned an estimated total of 47,000 acres in four western states; later that same week alone, new lightning-caused fires scorched approximately 20,000 more acres across Oregon.
The one major difference between 1981 and the present is the existence of a local fire agency with trained local firefighters and local firefighting resources and the fire safety consciousness and prevention measures of our community and residents.
This may be a fire season when these qualities are not only more important than ever, but a year when earlier, more extreme conditions leave us no other choice: either we must be pro-active, or we may have to pay the price, however high, for not doing all that we are each able to do ahead of time.
For more information and related articles on the 2015 fire season outlook, see our 2015 Fire Season Chronology, below ODF's sequenced fire season bulletins.
Community Emergency Preparedness Event - After-Notes
A big thank you to all who attended our Community Emergency Preparedness Presentation earlier this month (on Sat. May 2nd, 10 am - 12 pm at the Hilt Community Church).
We also extend a huge thanks to Sara Rubrecht, Senior Manager of the Jackson County Office of Emergency Management, and her husband, also an OEM member, for coming out to our community and presenting this timely event.
Sara did a great job covering the universe of emergency management in less than 2 hours, ending with a brief Q & A opportunity. For more details, see our Emergency Preparedness page.
October 11th, 2015, was the 92nd anniversary of the 1923 D'Autremont brothers train hold-up - also known as "the last great western train robbery" - as the Southern Pacific reached the Siskiyou Summit at Tunnel 13, where the train ran at its slowest on its journey over the Siskiyou mountains.
"Murder on the Southern Pacific - An Oregon Experience" re-aired on SOPTV's "Oregon Experience" on Wed. October 14th, 2015, at 2:00 am; this was a shortened, half-hour version of the original 1-hour program that first aired on Mon. June 1st and Thurs., June 4th, 2015.
This October 14th, "Murder on the Southern Pacific" was followed at 2:30 am by a half-hour version of "State of Jefferson: An Oregon Experience."
For the video preview of "Murder on the Southern Pacific," more info and to view the program online, see SOPTV's program link.
you missed "Big Burn: American Experience"
(1 hr) on SOPTV (KSYS) on Tues. Feb. 3rd,
or the repeat on Thurs., Feb. 5th, 2015, you can still see it online
Of interest: "Woodland owners have much to offer," forestry consultant and contractor Marty Main's Guest Opinion in the Thurs., Jan. 29th, 2015, Mail Tribune: "Today, we are confronted with increasing amounts of high-severity fire with negative effects... [. . .] ...if fire historically visited most forest sites every 5-20 years, as current research suggests, and the change toward more large, severe fires has been the result of decisions we as a society have made (e.g., put out all the fires while creating more flammable forests), then we can, once again, choose another path. Our money and efforts are better spent supporting management activities designed to reduce fire severity before wildfire visits our forests than after it has occurred..." To learn more about creating a less fire-prone landscape through a diversified strategy to forest/woodland management, see Fire Protection (under Info & Resources) at the Jackson-Josephine Small Woodlands Association website.
Fire Service Appreciation Day 2015: According to The Communique, Annual Fire Service Appreciation Day is held in late January every year. This year, it is being held on Tuesday, January 27th.
In keeping with passage of HJR 25, events are held across the state to recognize and honor the fire service. HJR 25 'encourages all citizens of Oregon to recognize and honor our fire service members for their efforts to keep our citizens safe from the ravages of fire.' Communities across the state have "an opportunity to host a variety of events recognizing members of their local fire departments and districts for their dedication, commitment and sacrifice."
This year, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal's office, "State Fire Marshal Jim Walker is encouraging communities across the state to show appreciation to everyone involved in the fire service for their dedication and commitment to helping others. Oregon follows the national trend with approximately 70% of firefighters in the state performing their duties as volunteers. Fire Service Appreciation Day is an opportunity for everyone to say thanks to volunteer and full-time firefighters alike for their time, talent, and sacrifice."
ODF FREE/NO OBLIGATION PROPERTY ASSESSMENT FOR WILDLAND FIRE SAFETY & Fire Hazard Fuel Reduction Grants:
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry announced on Jan. 7th, 2015, that it is offering fire hazard fuel reduction grants to eligible residents in Southwest Jackson County. While the focus for these grants is on properties in the Applegate and Bear Creek areas in the Rogue Valley, the ODF also states that:
" If landowners outside of the grant areas are interested in having a free/no obligation property assessment with regard to wildland fire safety, they are also encouraged to call (541) 664-3328." [. . .]
"For more information about the fuel-reduction grant program, and to schedule a free on-site fire risk assessment, call Derick Price at ODF’s Medford office, (541) 664-3328."
View ODF's Jan. 7, 2015, news release, "FIRE HAZARD FUEL REDUCTION GRANTS AVAILABLE TO RESIDENTS OF SOUTHWEST JACKSON COUNTY" (pdf).
Ongoing FREE 10-MINUTE HANDS-ONLY CPR TRAINING: If you missed this opportunity to get trained in Hands-Only CPR at one of our previous events, you still can. Learn more.
FYI: The Colestin/Hilt Emergency Preparedness Plan Leadership Group held its first meeting on Sat., January 18th, 2014. Our newly launched Emergency Preparedness Plan Project is in recognition of the increasing need to be able to effectively respond to significant emergency events here in our valley, and to provide help and leadership through the District to our residents. Learn more about our Emergency Preparedness Plan Project on our new page dedicated to developing our emergency preparedness resources.
The Lomakatsi Restoration Project - Prescribed Fire Controlled Burns and woodland fuel load reduction in the Colestin valley:
The Lomakatsi Restoration Project notified us of two APPROVED PRESCRIBED BURNING projects during the fall of 2015. One prescribed burn took place on Friday, Oct. 23rd, 2015, on a private property near Nepal Rd. in the middle of the Colestin valley; a second prescribed burn was scheduled for before Nov. 25th on another private property here in the Colestin area. See the posted flyer announcing these prescribed burns. Information on prescribed burning is also available on Lomakatsi's website at: http://www.lomakatsi.org.
Previously in 2015, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project conducted low-intensity prescribed burning in our valley on Wednesday, Feb. 18th, 2015, and Thursday, Feb. 19th. The burning of brush piles occurred on private property along Goat Ranch Road in the lower valley, by pre-arrangement with the owner. This prescribed burn was not related to another burn a few days earlier done by a private landowner "located between Colestin Road and I-5."
Lomakatsi also conducted a prescribed burn on Friday, January 30th, 2015, in the Colestin valley, on a private property near Goat Ranch Road, after receiving clearance from the ODF. Adjacent landowners were notified ahead of that date. See Lomakatsi's announcement flyer.
Low-intensity prescribed fire controlled burns are by arrangement with participating residents as part of a program to reduce woodland fuel loads through density thinning and slash treatments and to restore oak habitat.
Prescribed fire controlled burns were also done during the fall of 2013 through March, 2014 by Greyback Forestry, Inc., contracted by the Lomakatsi Restoration Project in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on private lands within our district. For details, see Lomakatsi's site under "News & Events" and the link to Colestin area work with photos at lomakatsi.org/prescribed-fire-colestin-11-1-13/; also see Lomakatsi's flyer, "Colestin Valley Prescribed Hand Pile Burn Notification, Potential Operation Dates: November 2013 through March 2014" (pdf format), and Lomakatsi's Nov. 2013 flyer, "Colestin Valley Prescribed Fire Notification," Nov. 1 - 18, 2013, (jpg image; allow approx. 30 seconds to load).
For questions or more information about about prescribed burning projects or about participating in Lomakatsi's fuel reduction program, see www.lomakatsi.org or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-488-0208.
Oak Restoration - Free Field Day tour in the Colestin valley - Sat. June 27th, 2015
Lomakatsi invited those interested to join in on an Oak Woodland Restoration Field Day tour on Saturday, June 27th, 2015, from 9am to 2pm.
This free event was hosted by the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network (KSON), a group composed of local state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, private citizens, and non-governmental organizations (including Lomakatsi) that provide opportunities for practitioners and community members to engage on issues affecting threatened oak habitats in order to promote oak conservation and restoration.
During the tour, participants visited several privately owned oak woodland sites in the Colestin valley to look at completed oak restoration treatments and discuss conservation efforts taking place in the local region.
For more information, see the flyer, contact KSON Coordinator Kate Halstead at email@example.com or 541-201-0866 ext. 7#, or visit http://www.klamathbird.org/the-klamath-call-note/announce/press/2852. Information is also available on Lomakatsi's website at www.lomakatsi.org.
HELP WITH FUEL REDUCTION
Planned Community Wildfire Meetings are part of countywide wildfire protection. Discussion topics include information you need to live safely in wildfire country, the fire planning process, how your neighborhood can be more wildfire safe, and meeting your local fire service providers. Representatives from local Jackson County Fire Districts, Oregon Department of Forestry, Rogue River/Siskiyou National Forest, and Medford BLM attend these meetings.
For information about any currently planned community meetings, contact:
Randy Iverson, Fire Chief Jackson County Fire District #3 (541) 826-7100
Brian Ballou, Fire Prevention Specialist, Oregon Dept. of Forestry (541) 664-3328
Neil Benson, Jackson County Integrated Fire Plan (541) 482-4682
Chris Chambers, Wildfire Fuels Reduction Coordinator, Ashland Fire & Rescue (541) 552-206
ODF's September, 2005, News bulletin as a pdf file.
(This requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher, FREE if you need to download it.)
The WEST WIDE ENERGY CORRIDOR DPEIS [Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement]:
UPDATE: In August, 2008, the BLM's Medford district office published a "Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan" for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument which includes information indicating that the energy corridor under discussion has been sited near the Klamath area and to the east of Ashland instead of running through our valley. Copies of this document are available from the BLM at its Medford District Office, 3040 Biddle Rd., Medford, OR., 97504.
The following concerns CRFD's position on the federal West-wide Energy Corridor DPEIS (Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement), concerning the 3,500-foot wide power corridor that could have run directly through our district. The public comment period on the draft plans ended on February 14th, 2008.
At the January, 2008, Board meeting, Lisa [Buttrey] provided the Board with background information and maps, pointed out issues of concern, and suggested talking points about this project.
The law allowing for the creation of this project was passed in 2005; the plan itself was released in mid-November of 2007. The plan is to have a 2/3rds-mile-wide pipeline/power-line corridor in the Valley. A number of these corridors are proposed throughout the west to handle the power sources (propane, gas, etc.) that is needed to keep up with increasing fuel needs in the country.
After discussion at the January meeting, the Board took the position that this area is not the best to locate this project. Not only are there environmental and geological concerns, but also the financial costs of going through the Siskiyou Mountains would be astronomical. Areas of eastern Oregon, which are flat and uninhabited, would be a far better place to locate the project.
The Board passed a motion directing the fire district, as the local agency, to send a letter outlining these concerns, as the project is currently proposed. Peggy Moore, as the Board Chair, was appointed to write the letter on behalf of the District.
The CRFD's letter in response to the West Wide Energy Corridor DPEIS follows:
January 20, 2008
West-wide Energy Corridor D[P]EIS
9700 S Cass Avenue – Bldg 900, Mail Stop 4
Argonne, IL 60439
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At our January 18th Board of Directors meeting, we passed a unanimous motion to provide written comments on the proposed Corridor (#4-247) through the Siskiyou Crest from Oregon into California. As the fire protection agency that is responsible for this area (for both fire and emergency medical) we STRONGLY oppose locating the corridor in this area.
There are a variety of reasons for our concerns but we believe the environmental, geological and financial arguments are the most salient and deserve your focused attention.
. The Colestin Valley and Siskiyou Pass area are well known as unstable in terms of their geology. Siskiyou literally means “moving mountain”. Slumps, shifts and collapses are fairly frequent in the area. As a result of one of these natural occurrences the Colestin Valley must now employ a receiver to rebroadcast telephone signals because the cable was rendered unusable by earth movement along its route.
. Interstate 5 is a vital transportation highway from Mexico to Alaska. Many of the trucks using this route on a daily basis carry toxic wastes, including nuclear waste. In addition, essential supplies of all kinds are hauled on this route day and night. Accidents happen frequently, sometimes closing the highway or rending one lane or another impassable.
. This particular stretch along Interste 5 (proposed corridor #4-247) is the longest stretch of 6% grade on the interstate system. Along with instability and bottleneck problems, the expense of putting lines across the Siskiyou Pass would be enormous. There are certainly locations in the state of Oregon that are flat, have far less interstate traffic and reside in more geologically stable environments. Areas in sparsely populated Eastern Oregon might be a consideration.
. The proposal, as we understand it, will make the Klamath River dam substation a destination for the proposed energy corridor. In doing so, you are targeting a substation connected to a dam that may soon be dismantled when court-ordered priority concerns for Klamath River salmon prevent re-licensing of Klamath River dams.
. The energy corridor segment, which is proposed for California’s Jenny Creek Falls, is a Redding BLM area of critical environmental concern.
We appreciate that when notified by many concerned citizens you moved the original 3,500 foot energy corridor out of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, but we still believe that for the reasons stated above, putting it in this region at all is a serious mistake.
We are a small, entirely volunteer fire district that, for 25 years, has provided needed fire and emergency medical services to the residents of our community. We simply do not have the resources, nor are more likely to appear, to support a crisis occasioned by a “mega” corridor .The location of our area makes it difficult (and at times impossible) for outside agencies to respond in a timely fashion.
We believe, once these facts are reviewed and the costs of locating the corridor in this area thoroughly researched that [the desirability of] finding a more geologically friendly, more cost effective and less populated traffic area will become clear.
We would be happy to provide further information to you on this matter. Thank you for your attention to our concerns and we hope that you will find a more hospitable location for this project.
Peggy A. Moore
Colestin Rural Fire District
Board of Directors
c. Chief Avgeris
The comment period ended February 14th, 2008. Thank you to all those of you who submitted your comments to the West-wide Energy Corridor D[P]EIS planners.
For further information, see the West Side Energy Corridor website:
For a more complete, easy-to-understand summary of the plan as it may affect us locally, together with issues to consider, maps, and further information, see the (PDF-format) article "West-wide Energy Corridors Routes Planned," published in the Jan.-Feb. 2008 issue of The Colestin Valley Buzz, and re-published here with publisher Lisa Buttrey's permission.
In June, 2005, the Fire Plan Committee (John Ames, Elaine Shanafelt, and Lisa Buttrey) completed and released the Colestin-Hilt Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) that was in the works for over a year. In addition to a public presentation of the main points of the plan by Committee Chair and Coordinator Lisa Buttrey at the community barbeque on Saturday, June 18th, the plan is now available in detail here on our site, through our Colestin-Hilt Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) page.
"The completed plan," according to Lisa Buttrey, "has an Intro section, a Description section, a brief 'Risks' section, and finally the meat of the document in the last section, 'The Action Plan,' followed by the 'Appendices.' "The Action Plan gives detailed ideas for things to do and calls for volunteers to do them. [We] hope to get a few 'Action' items assigned to willing takers (from outside the fire department proper!)."
The Plan has an enormous wealth of information in it, and reflects a tremendous amount of time, extensive research, many meetings with other fire agency and county officials, and hard work. The result is a document that provides a working plan of action for our community to pro-actively achieve a much better level of fire prevention and protection and disaster preparedness than we have ever known. We are also now in compliance, ahead of schedule, and coordinated with the County's new regional fire plan. Check out the Plan on our CWPP page.
Also of interest are some very interesting articles that were edited out of the final CWPP: "Geology of the Districts," a summary by local resident Russell Juncal, and according to Lisa, "very readable for all residents." The second is "Fire Regimes, Fire History and Forest Conditions in the Klamath-Siskiyou Region: An Overview and Synthesis of Knowledge, by Evan J. Frost and Rob Sweeney. Lisa states that this is "a scientific paper, quite lengthy at 59 pages, but full of info about fire history, fire regimes, suppression history, logging impact on fire, etc." A third article that was not considered part of the official plan but that is also relevant is a Homeowner's Safety Checklist from the Fire Safe Council. All of these articles are now available through our CWPP page as well.
Josephine County's Plan, by comparison: On January 18, 2006, the Oregon Dept. of Forestry announced in a press release that Josephine County's Integrated Fire Plan has been awarded statewide recognition: "Josephine County was recently chosen to receive the 2005 Partners for Disaster Resistance and Resilience Outstanding Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan. Josephine County was recognized for the collaborative planning effort that resulted in the Josephine County Integrated Fire Plan..." To learn more about how our neighboring county has prepared a fire plan that has now been recognized throughout the state of Oregon, read the full text of ODF's Josephine County Integrated Fire Plan press release (Jan. 18, 2006).
The "New & Improved Emergency Phone Tree" and Road Signage are two other developments related to our Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Read more.
We need to continue to be aware of cougars near our homes. For updated details on local cougar attacks, information on cougar behavior, and safety tips for cougar encounters, see our community page.
SPECIAL NOTE: Dead deer have been found in our area, due to a virus disease. If you find one, the OR. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife requests that you report it to Steve Neimela at (541) 826-8774 x239. See our community forum page for details.