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Last update: Fri., Dec. 6th, 2013
REMINDER #1: Clean your stove pipes and/or chimneys if you haven't yet (or hire a professional). Home heating fires are a primary cause of home fires; our district is no exception. Stove pipes should be cleaned before use each year; with heavier use, they should also be cleaned once every month during the woodburning season. For more information, see our Stoves & Flue Fires - Prevention & Handling page.
For additional useful information, also review our pages on:
Thank you, and have a safe, restful Fall/Early Winter season!
- A home fire safety message from Your Volunteer Fire District.
Ongoing 10-minute Hands-Only CPR Training:
For anyone who missed the chance to take the hands-only CPR training at the September 2013 picnic: We are going to try to hold additional training sessions at later dates. Since hands-only CPR is so easy to learn and can make such a difference, we would like to train as many people as possible. We hope to hold further training sessions periodically at times that can be arranged to fit everyone's schedules, in order to increase the number of community members who have this simple yet effective skill. The only requirement is your own interest in learning this! Either contact Karen directly at 541.210.7106 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or email us here and it will be forwarded to her. (See "Picnic - Update" below for more.)
FYI: In order to prevent false alarm calls to the District, please be aware that Greyback Forestry, Inc., contracted by the Lomakatsi Restoration Project in partnership with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, will be continuing to conduct low-intensity prescribed fire controlled burns this fall through March, 2014, on private lands within our district. This is 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.
For questions/more information, see lomakatsi.org or call 541-488-0208. (Note the mention of the Colestin burn on Nov. 1st on the Lomakatsi home page under "News & Events" and the link to details of the work in the Colestin area with photos at lomakatsi.org/prescribed-fire-colestin-11-1-13/.)
See Lomakatsi's updated flyer, "Colestin Valley Prescribed Hand Pile Burn Notification, Potential Operation Dates: November 2013 through March 2014" (pdf format).
See Lomakatsi's Nov. 2013 flyer, "Colestin Valley Prescribed Fire Notification," Nov. 1 - 18, 2013, as posted on CRFD's fire danger sign structure on lower Colestin Rd. (jpg image; allow approx. 30 seconds to load).
Previous 2013 bulletins:
CRFD’s Annual Community PICNIC – BBQ:
UPDATE: Despite cooler weather, we had a modest turnout with about 50 people. The food fare was scrumptious, as always. This was another pleasant, relaxed and enjoyable event that we wish more of our community residents would attend in the future!
This year's Health Awareness table and hands-only CPR training conducted by CMO Karen Dwyer was excellent, with a great table display of useful materials for people to take home, and short but effective CPR trainings and kits given to a handful of people who took advantage of the opportunity. A special thanks to Karen for her time to prepare and coordinate these resources for everyone.
A great thank you to everyone who came to the picnic and participated, and to those who prepared food, did before and after clean-up, provided other resources for this event, and a special thanks also to board member/organizer Cindy Warzyn for her time and management of this annual event.
For anyone who missed the chance to take the hands-only CPR training at the picnic: We are going to try to hold additional training sessions at later dates. Since hands-only CPR is so easy to learn and can make such a difference, we would like to train as many people as possible. We hope to hold further training sessions periodically at times that can be arranged to fit everyone's schedules, in order to increase the number of community members who have this simple yet effective skill. The only requirement is your own interest in learning this! Either contact Karen directly at 541.210.7106 or email@example.com, or email us here and it will be forwarded to her.
DATE: Sunday, September 22nd, 2013
TIME: Noon to 2 pm.
PLACE: The Hilt Church (inside & outside - rain or shine)
This is a lunch-barbeque event (lots of great food!). Beverages (non-alcoholic only) and food are complimentary to all local residents within our community and to our District friends from CalFire and other agencies.
This year, we will also have a Health Awareness table coordinated by our Chief Medical Officer, Karen Dwyer, RN, with free blood pressure checks, stroke information, and a short (15-20 min.) hands-only CPR class (held inside) taught directly from an American Heart Association video, for anyone interested. View/print Karen's flyer for Hands-Only CPR Training.
FUNDRAISING T-SHIRTS will again be on sale at the picnic. (For more info & shirt images, see our Fundraising page at www.crfd.org.)
Come meet your local fire district volunteers, learn more about what we do, see some of the equipment that we use to protect your homes and families, hear about district developments, meet our district’s Cal-Fire friends, and visit with your neighbors – mark your calendars now, and see you there!!
Smoke significantly affected our breathing air for much of this past summer.
Due to increased health hazards related to smoke, the following information was provided by our Chief Medical Officer, Karen Dwyer:
Lung Association offers helpful information in its "Forest
Fires and Respiratory Health Fact Sheet" on its website
* Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors. This can usually provide some protection, especially in a tightly closed, air-conditioned house in which the air conditioner can be set to re-circulate air instead of bringing in outdoor air.
* Reduce the amount of time engaged in vigorous outdoor physical activity. This can be an important and effective strategy to decrease exposure to inhaled air pollutants and minimize health risks during a smoke event.
* Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol or decaffeinated fluids.
* Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution such as burning cigarettes and candles; using gas, propane, and wood burning stoves and furnaces; cooking; and vacuuming.
* Individuals with heart disease or lung diseases such as asthma should follow their health care providers’ advice about prevention and treatment of these diseases.
Our hearts are with all of those grieving the loss of the 19 Granite Mountain hotshot firefighters of Prescott, Arizona, killed on Sunday, June 30th, in the Yarnell Hill Fire near the central AZ town of Yarnell (northwest of Phoenix).
The fire, initially sparked by lightning on Friday, June 28th, blazed out of control in triple-digit temperatures and erratic, gusty, hot winds under the state's long-term drought conditions. By Sunday, under the intense peak heat of the day, an unanticipated major wind shift from the southeast caused the fire to blow up to an estimated 2,000 acres. The 19 hotshot crew members, trapped with no escape and overtaken, deployed emergency fire shelters as a last-resort measure; tragically, there was insufficient time, and the heat was far too unendurable, for survival. The Yarnell Hill Fire of nearly 9,000 total acres within mere days is now the deadliest wildfire for firefighters in the U.S. in 80 years.
The CRFD stands in unity with Prescott, its fire department, and its community in the wake of this horrific event. We solemnly observe, salute, and honor the courage and bravery of the 19 members of the hot shot crew and their ultimate sacrifice.
For current information and crew member particulars, see CNN's news page.
"The future of wildfire, and of hotshot firefighting" - 8/3/13
The above-titled editorial by Bob Sipchen was carried in the Mail Tribune (Medford, OR) on Saturday, August 3rd, 2013, and was originally published by the Los Angeles Times on Sun. July 28th. A brief excerpt follows:
". . . I knew that for the firefighters, at least one thing that has been offered up as consolation is rooted in truth: They did die doing what they loved, and part of what they loved was the danger.
"I've come to doubt, however, another often-voiced cliche: 'They understood the risks.'
"A federal study released this year joins a growing body of literature connecting the frequency and intensity of wildfires worldwide to the global climate disruption that we have created by living lives dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. The Granite Mountain Hotshots may well have known about this connection. I'm confident that neither hotshots nor anyone else yet has a clue what it all means for the future of computer-modeled firefighting strategy, let alone about the multitude of life-or-death judgment calls firefighters make in any given wildfire."
"Warning: 'These huge fires are the new normal' - AP, 7/6/13
For those who missed the above article published by the Mail Tribune (Medford, OR) on July 6th, 2013, a few excerpted bits follow:
"More heat, more drought, more fuel and more people in the way are adding up to increasingly ferocious fires...
"While no single wildfire can be pinned solely on climate change, researchers say there are signs that fires are becoming bigger and more common in an increasingly hot and bonedry West...
Wildfires are chewing through twice as many acres per year on average in the United States compared with 40 years ago...
" 'These huge fires are the new normal,' said John Glenn, chief of fire operations for the federal Bureau of Land Management. 'Look at any touchstone - global warming, fuels, invasive species, forest and rangeland health issues - and then you throw in the urban interface. It's almost like this perfect mix. What used to be the anomaly is almost like the normal now.' "
Wildland Fire Risk Potential for 2013:
Key indicators show that this is a hotter, drier, and potentially very difficult fire season: Earlier this season, the ODF attributed the fire danger increase to HIGH to “a historically dry spring and an abrupt onset of summer weather” with “continued hot and dry weather outlooks . . . Wild land fire starts are about 30% higher this year than compared to last year. . .”
The US Forest Service has released a map of the Wildland Fire Risk Potential for 2013 with the areas of greatest risk in color-coded format. It can be viewed on the NFPA's (National Fire Protection Assn.) site blog at: http://wildfire.blog.nfpa.org/oregon/.
Extensive portions of California, particularly much of the northern California region, as well as southwestern Oregon, much of Idaho and eastern Nevada, and western Utah are in the 4 percent red "Very High" risk zone, intermingled with the 8 percent "High" risk potential zone. (Scroll down the page about one-third.) This site also has lots of other timely news and useful wildland and other fire safety information, including a graphically depicted "sweet spot" zone for wildland rural-interface residents when taking wildfire risk factors into consideration - well worth checking out.
Also of note:
“Southwest Oregon... has near-historic low levels of snowpack and vegetation fuel moistures. Even though recent rainstorms have helped to forestall the start of fire season, the moisture wasn’t enough to reverse the long-term drying trend” (see 5/30/13, www.swofire.com).
"State predicts hotter, drier summer than most":
Paul Fattig's article in the Thurs. April 11, 2013, edition of the (Medford) Mail Tribune tells us what we already know or intuit:
ODF's Brian Ballou is quoted: "The forecast is for a much drier summer than we have been in for the last few years... We will likely have an earlier fire season than we have had for a while."
Lightning is expected to be a wild card as far as large fires go, but the potential for fire in general will be greater than normal: "The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, the nation's support center for wildland firefighting, predicts that significant fire potential will increase to above normal for the Northwest and Northern California in June and July."
Locally, despite a good start last fall on the water year since September 1st that has left us with an above-average level to date, early 2013 reflects more of the El Niño pattern anticipated this past winter, with the result that "the first three months of the year were the driest on record," surpassing the record for this period set in 1992.
The ODF and the U.S. Forest Service are already preparing for a potentially active fire season: "ODF will have a fire-retardant bomber stationed at the Medford airport again this fire season, Ballou said. Helicopters will be based also in Medford and Merlin" and other firefighting resources will be available "at the same levels as last year."
However, lightning notwithstanding, the ODF is emphasizing prevention before these resources become necessary. In particular, "residents in rural areas" need to take action now, ahead of fire season, to "reduce grass, weeds and brush around structures to decrease the threat should a wildfire come their way this summer."
You can (and should) read the article in its entirety on the Mail Tribune's website at:
or copy & paste the following link into your browser:
(The Mail Tribune's website allows non-subscribers access to 3 articles per month.)
Late February 2013 readings at Mt. Ashland sites show below-normal snowpack and water content levels:
Paul Fattig's February 28th, 2013, article headline in the Mail Tribune states that "February snowpack readings show drop at upper elevations: But some mid-elevation sites are above normal":
"U.S. Forest Service snow ranger Steve Johnson's snow-survey trek up Mount Ashland on Wednesday revealed above-normal snow at the lower elevation site but below-normal amounts for the three higher-elevation snow survey areas for the end of February.
"...the snow level at the Siskiyou Summit site, 4,600 feet above sea level, was 143 percent of normal with the snow at 27 inches. The all-important water content, reflecting how much moisture is available in the snowpack for summer stream flows and irrigation, is 8.7 inches, or 161 percent of normal.
However, "Johnson found only 48 inches of snow at the Ski Bowl Road site, at 6,000 feet elevation on Mount Ashland, for 75 percent of normal. The snow water content was 16 inches, or 76 percent of normal.
"At the 6,500-foot level, the Mount Ashland Switchback site had 64 inches of snow, which is 80 percent of average. The water content was 23.8 inches, making it 86 percent of normal.
"The Caliban II site, also at 6,500 feet, contained 64 inches of snow for 86 percent of normal. The water content at that site was 23.8 inches, or 94 percent of normal."
For the full article, see February snowpack readings show drop at upper elevations. (The Mail Tribune's website allows non-subscribers access to 3 articles per month.)
The Spring, 2013, Firebrand:
The Fri. April 26th, 2013, edition of the Mail Tribune contained (the) "Firebrand," a small newspaper insert with some great fire prevention information. This edition has really useful, timely articles:
In case you missed it, you can check it out on the RVFPC website at http://www.rvfpc.com. (Look under the right-hand navigation column, & scroll down to "Firebrand Newsletter").
A printed copy is also available upon request by:
The Firebrand is published by the Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Cooperative, a non-profit group of fire prevention organizations based in southern Oregon, and "supports the mission of the RVFPC, and the outreach and education action items in the Jackson County Integrated Fire Plan... [a]rticles also highlight projects that protect homes and wildlands from wildfire, and promote healthy, productive wildland environments. // The Firebrand also supports emergency preparedness for families, pets and livestock, and provides information about preventing fires inside the home."
For those who may have missed it, check out this commentary on defensible
space as a crucial strategy for lessening your vulnerability in a
What would you do in a fire emergency? Your local fire district has a plan. Check it out on our Colestin-Hilt Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) page.
During lightning storms, we rely heavily on the Soda Mountain fire lookout, staffed for the past 24 years by Ken Struck and his wife. Situated twelve miles east of Ashland and over 6,000 feet high, with a bird's-eye view of our district, Ken watches storms, and tracks lightning hits, smoke, and new fire starts using binoculars and a firefinder to pinpoint the exact locations.
Soda Mountain is one of ODF's two last full-time manned fire lookouts in the Southwest Oregon District, as people are replaced by technology at fire lookout stations. Paul Fattig's article in the Medford Mail Tribune is a tribute to Ken and the work he does, as well as an interesting history of the Soda Mountain lookout station.
We in the Colestin-Hilt district continue to greatly appreciate Ken's watchful presence and long-experienced, knowledgeable assistance from Soda Mountain, particularly during lightning storms, and in general, throughout each fire season.
Read Paul Fattig's article " Fire-watcher era nears end: With cameras increasingly replacing human lookouts, Ken Struck, who mans the Soda Mountain station, is among the last of a rare breed." Originally published on Wed. July 28th, 2010, in the Medford Mail Tribune; available online at: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100728/NEWS/7280319.
Will you be doing any landscaping on your property? Check out the OSU Extension Service's brochure, "Fire-Resistant Plants for Oregon Home Landscapes," available online, and from 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.
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.