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Colestin General Interest:
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.
Board Election: The Colestin Rural Fire District Board had three four-year positions up for election in the Jackson County Special Election that took place yesterday, May 19th, 2015. Unofficial results are in. Learn more.
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.
Fire Season Preparation and Defensible Space:
Despite recent cooler weather, which is helping to delay the onset of fire season, multiple key indicators, including the almost non-existent snowpack this past winter, minimal spring rains thus far, and an increasing regional drought designation (also see NOAA's U.S. drought portal), show that we are again heading into a hotter, drier, and potentially devastating fire season, particularly later in the season when fuels become bone-dry.
Lightning is also a very serious concern: in drier years, it strikes the ground more often, increasing the potential number of new fire starts.
We urge you use the remaining days before fire season begins to create or renew good, solid 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.
More wildfire preparation information:
The window of opportunity to prepare will diminish and close for regulated activities as fire danger increases, so make the extra effort to do what you can NOW.
Thank you for participating in wildfire preparedness and prevention.
ALERT: If YOU are doing any open burning (before it becomes prohibited):
1) Review and follow our safety procedures on our slashburning page first.
2) Notify us ahead of time to help us avoid expending resources on false alarm calls.
3) Thirdly, remember that all open burning is prohibited once fire season begins. However, due to the anticipated heightened fire potential of the season ahead, it may be necessary to prohibit open burning within our district before fire season begins.
Check for regulation/restriction updates, posted on our current fire restrictions page and within the district at our three usual locations (lower Mt. Ashland Rd. kiosk "next to the mail boxes," just to the right of Fire Station #1 on our new mini-kiosk, and on on lower Colestin Rd. on our fire district post structure near the CA-OR stateline).
2015 Firefighter Training is now in progress, as of Fri., March 20th.
Fire Season Outlook:
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.*
The Colestin Fire began during dry, intensely hot weather, on the heels of four consecutive days of triple-digit 110-degree and over temperatures, on Monday, August 10th, around 12:30 pm just as the day was about to reach its peak heat, in the inhabited, densely forested heart of the valley.
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.
[*Ref: "Dry year for Oregon, Washington - Snowpack suffers; one meteorologist predicts a warm summer ahead," by the AP and carried in the Mail Tribune, Thurs., January 2, 2014, Page 2A.]
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.
March 24, 2015 (Tues.): "13 Oregon Counties: Jackson among counties in drought program - Low-interest loans available through federal disaster program," (Mail Tribune, p. 1A, by Kelly House, The Oregonian):
"Oregon's worsening drought has triggered a federal disaster loan program in 13 Oregon counties, including Jackson and Josephine." California's Siskiyou County is also included.
"The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that low-interest loans meant to offset economic losses associated with the drought are now available for small, nonfarm businesses" in the counties listed; "farmers in those counties are also eligible for emergency aid through the U.S. Department of Agriculture."
"While Jackson County's precipitation total is slightly above normal for the water year, warm temperatures mean little of that moisture has been stored in the form of snow..."
"The federal agencies opened up their aid programs in Oregon in response to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's announcement last week that most of Oregon is in drought disaster mode..." [...}
"As the nightmare scenario of a fourth straight hot, dry summer becomes increasingly likely, Oregon wildlife officials, firefighters, farmers and ranchers are preparing for the worst." [...]
"Oregon Department of Forestry officials are bracing for a fourth straight long, devastating fire season.
" 'Instead of 1- or 2-acre fires in the spring we've been seeing 20- and 30-acre fires,' Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Rod Nichols said."
A 3/23/15 edition of this story is available online, also titled,
"Jackson among counties in drought program,"
March 20, 2015 (Fri.): "Mt. Ashland hopes for spring snow: Coming storm could bring snow to higher elevations" (Mail Tribune, p. 1A, by Vickie Aldous):
Noting the hope for snow from the recent storm system, this article also observes that the ski area "has been closed since Sunday," [March 15th], "after warm temperatures and rain melted snow at the bottom of runs and around chairlift loading zones." The upper mountain snow depth of "above 50 inches this week," [March 16-20] hasn't helped lower areas.
Ski area General Manager Hiram Towle declared that the resort would re-open if there were " 'enough snow,' " but that " 'It is going to take a significant amount... because we lost quite a bit at the lower elevations around the lifts.' " Workers have moved snow around to compensate for low-snow areas, but that requires extra accessible snow.
The National Weather Service forecast for Fri. 3/20 through Tues. 3/24 included a chance of snow with levels lowering initially to 6,000 feet, and later in the storm system, to 4,500-5,000 feet, below the ski area's base elevation of 6,338 feet.
[UPDATE: Although light snow did materialize, it was not enough to allow the ski park to re-open: As of Tues. evening, March 24th, the resort's website at mtashland.com posted a "Closed for season" notice; only 5 inches total fell during the previous week. The Base Snow Depth was listed at only 13 inches, with the Upper Snow Depth still at 52 inches.]
Also mentioned is the very low snow totals down in Mt. Shasta, where that ski park has remained closed throughout this past winter; as of March 20th, "It has no snow at its base and only 10 inches higher up the mountain."
A 3/19/15 version of this story is available online, there titled,
"Mt. Ashland hopes coming storm will reopen ski area,"
March 14, 2015 (Sat.): "Gov. Brown to declare drought emergency," (Mail Tribune, p. A4, by Kelly House, The Oregonian), provides a drought conditions update:
According to this article, based on an assessment from the Oregon State Drought Council, Gov. Kate Brown was preparing to sign documents as early as Monday, March 16th making a declaration of drought official for Lake and Malheur counties, with similar declarations for Harney and Klamath counties expected to soon follow.
"The U.S. Drought Monitor, which measures risk of drought nationwide, shows an ominous red splotch over more than a quarter of Oregon, with nearly all of Lake, Malheur and Harney counties completely engulfed in 'extreme drought' ... // "Much of the rest of the state is facing severe to moderate drought..."
Not only has the snowpack this winter been "startlingly low," but "meteorologists say peak snowpack has already come and gone," and that "any new snowfall won't be enough to offset the ongoing melt." The result, in addition to water shortages, is that "Oregon and surrounding states could be in for a summer of wildfires..."
The above article is available online, also titled
"Gov. Brown to declare drought emergency,"
March 12, 2015 (Thurs.): "Extreme Weather: Warm February takes its toll on snowpack - In Oregon, 45 percent of snow-monitoring sites are snow-free," (Mail Tribune, pA4, The Associated Press, Seattle):
"Warmer temperatures and a lack of snowfall in February have taken a toll on winter snowpack in the Cascade Mountains and other areas in the West, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service said Wednesday [March 11].
"One-third of monitoring sites in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada reported the lowest snowpack ever measured as of March 1, and some sites don't even have snow, unusual for this time of year." [...]
"Snow that falls in the mountains during the winter typically melts slowly during spring and summer, providing water for much of the region. A lack of snowpack can lead to drought..."
"The snowpack in the Western U.S. is counted on to be an additional reservoir that holds a whole bunch of water, so that water is released slowly as the snow melts..."
"Snow surveyors in many places across the region reported seeing little or no snow at sites they visited. In Oregon, for example, about 45 percent of the snow-monitoring sites are snow-free."
A 3/11/15 version of this article is available online,
there titled "Warm February takes toll on West's snowpack,",
March 6, 2015 (Fri.): " 'It seems inevitable': Catastrophic wildfires expected this summer," (Mail Tribune, page 1A top, main col., News, Environment, by Mark Freeman), starkly expresses the seasonal outlook we most dread:
"Record low snowpack amid a second straight year has wildland managers bracing for what they consider an upcoming wildfire season in which catastrophic fire in the Cascades or Siskiyous 'seems inevitable' .
"State and federal wildfire experts said Thursday in Medford that they expect mid- and high-elevation forestlands to be prime for generating a 2015 fire season that will start earlier, last longer and likely burn hotter than normal in this area known for summer fires.
"With minimal or no snow around places such as Howard Prairie and Mount Ashland, the sun's rays that normally would melt snow and wet the forest instead will be cooking it tinder dry this spring, making slopes more able to carry flames and more susceptible to fire starts caused by lightning downstrikes.
"Forest Service and BLM teams are training firefighters earlier than most years while trying to help amass resources that will help combat fires expected to break out if the region sees a repeat of last year's 130,000 lightning strikes...
"The primed fuels ranging from downed and dead trees to brush killed during the intense freezes in the 2014 winter will mean fire crews will require larger safety zones around fires and potentially alter attack plans..."
The above comments were part of a briefing for Oregon's U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, who "also announced the securing of more than $2 million in U.S. Forest Service grants to curb wildfire risks ... in the Ashland watershed," as part of the ongoing "Ashland Forest Resiliency Project" that focuses on clearing the forest floor, thinning and burning projects "designed by the Forest Service and implemented by private contractors," much of it done by The Lomakatsi Restoration Project. [. . .]
"Thursday's upbeat discussion of the Ashland project was t[e]mpered by what federal wildfire officials were calling the worst pre-season wildfire conditions in at least 25 years."
Read the above article in full online, there titled
"Catastrophic wildfires expected in Southern Oregon this
summer", at: http://www.mailtribune.com/article/20150305/NEWS/150309767/0/.
March 1, 2015 (Sun.): "Climate Change: Recent weather patterns could be a preview of what's to come if predictions hold true: Agriculture, Forests, Tourism, Housing: The new normal?" (Mail Tribune, page 1A top, main col., Sunday Focus, by Vickie Aldous), a lengthy, comprehensive article, discusses the many ramifications of climate change and its impact on wildland fires and firefighting.
Global temperatures are not only increasing, but the increase is accelerating: "From 1895 to 2011, average temperatures in the Northwest increased 1.3 degrees. Temperatures are predicted to climb 3.3 to 9.7 degrees by 2070 to 2099, as compared to 1970 to 1999, according to a 2014 National Climate Assessment..."
" 'The average temperature goes up and down, but the trend over the last 100 years has been up. We are in global warming,' says Medford-based National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Sandler." Sandler also clarifies that "the overall context of warming is making milder winters more likely."
Greg Jones, an academic division director at SOU and an internationally known researcher of the impact of climate change on the wine industry, observes that " '... the past two years have been the warmest on record in most of the western United States and Oregon' ," and that " 'Climate change models are saying that our region should have more rainfall and less snowfall.' " A significant difference, however is that "rainfall is not spread out," and instead comes in large amounts during single weather events. This past February, for example, the Ashland area "recorded 3.93 inches of rainfall over 48 hours - its third-highest two-day total since 1892."
Besides raising water management issues, less snowpack impacts snow-dependent recreation: Although the Mt. Ashland Ski Area was able to reopen after a month of closure in early February, "the ski area is adapting to less snow. Workers harvested snow off the parking lot and other parts of the mountain to use on ski runs."
Most significantly, diminishing winter snowpacks mean an increasing risk and probability of more intense wildland fires due to the volume of fuels that dry out and become volatile earlier in the year, leading to longer, more catastrophic fire seasons:
"If [global] temperatures rise by 2.2 degrees, the Rogue Valley and mountains straddling the Oregon and California border will see a 300 to 400 percent increase in areas burned by wildfire, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment." The original article includes a map showing "the projected increases in Oregon lands burned due to climate change."
In addition to lowering tourism, "[i]ncreased wildfire could worsen respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses in nearby populations because of smoke and particulate pollution, the assessment predicts."
Proactively, the City of Ashland has engaged in "a multi-year, multimillion-dollar" wildfire fuel thinning project in the hills above town that will "trim trees and brush from thousands of acres in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project."
The article quotes Oregon Dept. of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou: "[T]his year's mild winter is setting the area up for another busy wildfire season," and that "forecasts call for intense fire years to become the norm":
" 'We're in for more aggressive wildfire seasons,' he says. 'The cost of firefighting goes up, and firefighters are engaged in fighting fires more months of the year. With very dry vegetation, typically we have more intense fire behavior and a risk of more fires. Fire seasons will be more and more expensive if forecasts play out. It's not a rosy situation at all when you look at future scenarios.' "
Another cause of increasing costs and challenges for firefighters, according to Ballou, is population increase in forest areas, otherwise known as urban-rural interface zones, where homes are surrounded by fuels. Yet another factor Ballou mentions is Increasing "competition for resources" amongst firefighting agencies.
Given the many risk factors, including lightning, the ever-unpredictable wild card, Ballou discusses the urgent need to reduce wildfire fuels, which is the one thing that individual residents can do to help prepare for the threat of extreme fire events:
"...[I]t makes more sense to invest money in proactive forest-thinning projects to reduce fire fuels. Fuels reduction is less expensive than fighting intense fires, he says. // 'Doing well-planned mitigation would be a far more effective way of protecting resources, reducing the number of days smoke is in the air and cutting firefighting costs - not to mention preventing the loss of homes to wildfires' ."
Read the above article in its entirety online, there
re-titled "The new normal under climate change?",
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.
Feb. 18, 2015 (Wed.): "Spring in February: Northwest basks in record high temps," an AP report from Seattle in the Mail Tribune (P. A5), noting that "[t]emperatures have crept north of 60 degrees," observes that "[t]his isn't a typical February in the Pacific Northwest," and that "[t]he Northwest has had a record-breaking winter, but for warm temperatures." Calling it "one of the mildest winters" in the Northwest, meteorologists ascribe the unseasonal weather to El Nino, which typically produces "drier winters and wetter falls." This year's El Nino "went from weak to neutral" but is still in effect "throughout the region," with a glaring result: "Nearly all ski resorts in western Washington have partially closed their operations or shut down completely. There hasn't been enough snow."
Feb. 12, 2015 (Thurs.): According to the Mail Tribune's front-page story, "Ski area officials praise snow," Mt. Ashland received "21 to 31 inches of snow" from the storm systems that moved through our region during the previous week. All lifts were expected to be in operation over Presidents Day weekend "after the biggest storm in two years dumped plentiful snow on the mountain. // "The base snow depth was at 26 inches while upper snow depths reached 57 inches, according to measurements taken earlier this week."
Mt. Ashland appears to be an anomaly throughout our region, however: "The Mt. Shasta Ski Park in Northern California remains shuttered, with only 5 inches at the base and 10 inches higher up the mountain . . . [T]he Willamette Pass ski area outside Eugene, Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters and the Warner Canyon ski area outside Lakeview are among the Oregon resorts closed by low snow." There was one bright spot in the story - up near Bend, in central Oregon: "The Mt. Bachelor resort has had plentiful snow and picked up another 19 inches during the past seven days."
[This isn't about elevation, however; although Mt. Bachelor is 9,065 feet at its highest elevation and Mt. Ashland is 7,500 feet at the top, Mt. Shasta, at 14,179 feet, is nearly twice that of Mt. Ashland. (For comparison, Hoodoo is 5,703 feet; Willamette Pass ski area is 6,683; and Warner Canyon ski area is 6,003 feet.) Instead, it appears that we just got lucky this time.]
To put this in perspective, the historical annual average snowfall at Mt. Ashland is 300 inches, or 25 feet; the current 57 inches is only just over one-sixth of that amount.
Although our snowpack remains well below normal, even with the recent storms, our water year is more promising at this time: the gauge at the Medford airport, from which we derive our seasonal total figure, is at 12.82 inches; the normal seasonal total to date is 11.43 inches. Based on weather records dating from 1928, the average annual total rainfall for Medford to Ashland is approximately 19 inches; this is about two-thirds of the way there, just ahead of the curve as of this date.
A separate report on statewide conditions, "Oregon snowpack below average," also in the Feb. 12, Mail Tribune (front-page, sidebar), provides additional perspective:
In other words, winter snowfall is again much less than it should be, even though it is locally somewhat better than last year. This is true not just here but across much of the West. It is becoming a trend - the new "normal" - whether we use the "double-C" word or just stick with the "D" word to describe it.
While Rogue valley irrigation and water districts will have some water this summer, low mountain snowpack levels will inevitably impact those of us living at higher elevations, and will, amongst other things, produce a potentially treacherous fire season. Unless this situation changes, this is the reality we must prepare ourselves for.
According to the Mail Tribune's front-page story on Sat., January 31, 2015, "High and dry: Record low snowpack worries irrigators, resorts," this year's snowpack thus far has set a new record at "just 18 percent of average - less than the 22 percent of average that set a record this time last year." Some places, according to the Portland-based Natural Resources Conservation Service, are at even lower levels, such as Diamond Lake, which by Fri. [Jan. 30th] was still listed as "snowless, something that's never been seen there," and Howard Prairie Reservoir, which "limped into this winter nearly dry from last year's summer drought" and is now "ice-free and snowless from a warm January." Although winter officially has nearly two months still when this could change, "Federal climate forecasters are predicting continued warmer-than-average temperatures," suggesting any moisture will materialize as rain, not snow. That said, any moisture is preferable to drought, and equal chances for normal precipitation are still in the outlook.
On Sun., January 4, 2015, the Mail
Tribune reported a similar story: "Drought-plagued
reservoirs need the white stuff to recover." An
According to the NOAA's most recent drought report (released Jan. 15th), our region is between "Severe (D2)" and "Extreme (D3)" drought. The outlook through this April (also released Jan. 15th) indicates that "Drought persists or intensifies" in our region. This designation also covers nearly 3/4 of Oregon (excepting the northwest quarter), all of the upper 2/3 of both California and Nevada, and much of southeastern Washington, northern Utah, and southwestern and central Idaho.
The latest Drought summaries (narratives) to date by region, with short-term (week-ahead) projections, show that, in the Pacific Northwest, "So far, winter has not been markedly wet or dry in general across the Cascades, but it has been warmer than normal, and snowpack is low for this time of year. As a result, D0 ["abnormally dry"] conditions were expanded to cover the Oregon Cascades..."
The NOAA's 2014 Global Climate Recap report has also just been released, with findings that "In 2014, the combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average, making the year the warmest since records began in 1880. [. . .] The 20 warmest years in the historical record have all occurred in the past 20 years. Except for 1998, the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2002."
Finally, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction page, the 3-month temperature outlook for our region as of mid-January is for a "60-percent chance" of "higher-than-normal" temps, while the 3-month precipitation outlook for the same period is for "equal chances" for "normal" precip.
As early as last September, a weak El Nino weather pattern was in the longer-range forecasts for this winter, suggesting a warmer and drier winter. (See "Winter forecast: Clear skies ahead? Early predictions of an El Nino winter give way to talk of another dry season," Mail Tribune, p. 1A, Sun., Sept. 14, 2014.) According to that report, "most models" for early winter showed "drier than normal, transitioning to equal chances" for precipitation later in the season. While later-February, 2015, water totals have improved, warmer than usual temperatures have prevented much of the needed snowpack from forming.
All of the above presages another very scary, potentially volatile fire season ahead.
Even more than last year, we are going to need very serious vigilance with the increased fire potential, and a super-responsive, super-effective firefighting crew.
you missed "Big Burn: American Experience"
(1 hr) on SOPTV (KSYS) on Tues. Feb. 3rd,
or the repeat on Thurs., Feb. 5th, you can still see it online at
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).
A limited supply of our 2014 "Year of the Cat" Fundraising T-Shirts and Sweatshirts is still available. These one-of-a-kind shirts, with the slogan "Year of the Cat" in recognition of our new district firefighting dozer, are collector's editions, made in 2014 only! (The shirt design was created by Pam Haunschild, CRFD Board Member and grant writer.)
CRFD-logo Hats are also still available.
Sweatshirts [above] are $28.00 (90% cotton, 10% polyester).
Pocket T-Shirts [left] are $17.00 (100% cotton).
Hats with CRFD's logo are $15.00.
All items are in Navy Blue, with designs as shown.
Some sizes of shirts from previous years are also still available (see images on our fundraising page).
All sales proceeds help to raise funds for needed specialized items that are beyond our annual budgetary provisions.
To purchase a shirt, contact Board Member Cindy Warzyn:
(Type the email address into your email 'To' field.)
Thank you for your support of your local volunteer fire district!
REMINDER #2: REPLACE ALL OF YOUR SMOKE ALARM BATTERIES WITH NEW BATTERIES YEARLY, AND TEST YOUR ALARMS MONTHLY.
Home fires often become devastating and sometimes deadly not because there weren't any smoke detectors, BUT BECAUSE THE BATTERIES HAVE FAILED, delaying discovery. This is avoidable! Working smoke detectors provide a crucial time advantage and can help to save your home, your life, and the lives of your family members. Make sure your smoke detectors are all working, with FRESH batteries.
WINTER PREP TIP: FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) reminds us that "one of the most serious threats to your home is frozen water pipes." FEMA recommends these "FOAM, DOME and DRIP" tips from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). (Scroll down to "Six Affordable Home Insulation Tips for Winter Weather" on 11/14/14.) Also, check out The Weather Channel's video discussion on (How to) Keep Your Pipes From Freezing (2:58 min).
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 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 recently conducted a prescribed burn on Friday, January 30th 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.
All burns are always contingent upon getting air quality clearance from the Oregon Department of Forestry's smoke management forecasting. The CRFD receives maps of designated burn locations and also is notified just ahead of each actual burn.
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.
Previously, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project conducted several prescribed burning projects on private properties within the Colestin Valley during the fall of 2014 (from Nov. 1st to Dec. 1st). See Lomakatsi's announcement flyer for additional information on that burn.
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.
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.