About the District:
Wildland Fire Prevention:
Fire Season News:
Fire & Home Safety:
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.
ALERT: The National Weather Service in Medford is forecasting "the coldest air mass of the season thus far" for the week ahead; "a strong front will come through Monday night" with temperatures lowering significantly by Tuesday morning "with a cold showery air mass and sharply lowering snow levels Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday" down to just above the [Rogue] valley floor and snow on many of the mountain passes, including the Siskiyou summit.
The arctic air is expected to remain with us through the holiday weekend, with overnight lows in the teens (single digits near/on the Siskiyou summit) and daytime highs near and below freezing.
Remember to wrap any exposed pipes, make sure you keep your pets inside ("If it's too cold for you, it's too cold for them") and please don't travel during the weather system if you don't have to. If you must travel, the following will help:
WINTER WEATHER TRAVEL PREPAREDNESS: The Jackson County Sheriff's Office has some advice for staying safe on the roads:
"Stock your vehicle with winter survival gear, including tire chains, food, water, gloves, boots, blankets, [any needed] medicine, and a fully charged phone when traveling." Also, start out with a full gas tank (or at least half-full) in case of delays.
Also, during winter weather and road conditions, "stay home unless a trip out is necessary; pay attention to weather updates; avoid roads, mountain passes and back-country roads that are notoriously dangerous in winter; and tell someone of your travel plans, and don't rely on cell phones to always have service."
Also see "FEMA’s Pacific Northwest Region wishes you #SafeTravels for the holidays": http://www.fema.gov/news-release/2015/11/19/femas-pacific-northwest-region-wishes-you-safetravels-holidays.
TIPS FOR A SAFE AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY:
"According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. The average number of home fires on Thanksgiving Day is normally double the average number of fires in homes all other days."
• Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking - frying, broiling or boiling - at high temperatures.
• Make your cooking area safe. Move things that can burn away from the stove. Turn pot handles toward the back so they can’t be bumped.
• Watch what you’re cooking. Use a timer when roasting a turkey or baking.
• Be prepared. Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire.
• Stay awake and alert while you’re cooking. If you see smoke or the grease starts to boil in your pan, turn the burner off.
• Prevent burns. Wear short sleeves when you cook, or roll them up. Don’t lean over the burner. Use potholders and oven mitts to handle hot cookware.
• "Keep your festivities from going up in flames; only use turkey fryers outdoors."
• Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
• An overfilled cooking pot will cause cooking oil to spill when the turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when put in the pot.
• Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
• Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
• The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot.
Cooking fire safety and Preventing a turkey fryer fire (USFA & FEMA): https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/cooking.html
Thanksgiving Safety Tips from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA): http://www.dhs.gov/blog/2010/11/24/thanksgiving-safety-tips-us-fire-administration-usfa
Cooking safety (NFPA): http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/cooking
FEMA and USFA Issue Thanksgiving FIre Safety Reminder: http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/FEMA_and_USFA_Issue_Thanksgiving_FIre_Safety_Reminder_110229804.html?site=mobile
Thanksgiving fire safety tips from NFPA (1-minute YouTube video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URy9Xw92OZk
On a related note - HOME HEATING SAFETY:
"According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), heating is the second leading cause of home fires following cooking."
"Taking simple steps can prevent a fire from happening in your home. The National Fire Protection Association and USFA offer these heating safety tips, including:
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater;
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room;
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters; and
• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed."
"For more ways to have a fire-safe home when the mercury dips, check out this USFA resource guide [https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/heating_fire_safety_vertical.pdf] to share with family and friends." Also see:
Home heating safety tips (NFPA): http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/heating/heating-safety-tips.
Also, DRIVE ONLY ON THE RIGHT SIDE (LANE) OF THE ROAD - NOT IN THE CENTER.
This warning is in response to some near-misses lately: we don't want to be responding to serious medical incidents that can be avoided. Please DRIVE SAFELY. Thank you.
An additional prescribed burn is expected to take place before Nov. 25th on another private property here in the Colestin area. Specific information will be posted here once it becomes available. See the posted flyer for details.
Home fires often become devastating and sometimes deadly not because there aren't any smoke alarms, BUT BECAUSE THE BATTERIES HAVE FAILED, delaying discovery. This is avoidable! Working smoke alarms 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 alarms are all working, with FRESH batteries.
While the NFPA has designated the week of Oct. 4-10 as Fire Prevention Week, we will continue to focus on home fire safety and prevention throughout this fall.
Visit http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week and FAST FACTS ABOUT FIRE (http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week/fast-facts-about-fire) for more information and fire safety tips.
Additional fire safety and prevention information is also available from the U.S. Fire Administration.
Some ADDITIONAL TIPS (from Jackson County Fire District 3 & Rogue Valley firefighters):
FEMA Reminders (from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's e-news):
"...[P]repare your home for fire emergencies by changing
the batteries in your smoke alarms.
• Put smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including every bedroom and the hallway outside of each sleeping area;
• Test smoke alarms monthly;
• Change the smoke alarm battery at least once per year;
• Replace smoke alarms that are more than ten years old; and
• Develop a home fire escape plan so that everyone knows two ways out and knows a safe place to meet. Practice your plan twice per year.
To learn more about fire escape planning, check out this USFA public service announcement [youtube video: "Fire Safety: Have Two Ways Out"]."
What’s Your Extinguisher Type?
"In an emergency, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property when used to put out a small fire. However, when it comes to extinguishers, one type does not fit all.
" Did you know there are several types of fire extinguishers? Each one is designed to extinguish different kinds of fires:
• A: For use with materials like cloth, wood, and paper;
• A-B-C or B-C: Multi-purpose fire extinguishers best suited for home use. Most home improvement stores carry fire extinguishers that cover class A through class C;
• B: For use with combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints;
• C: For use with electrical equipment like appliances, tools, or other equipment that is plugged in;
• D: For use with flammable metals like aluminum, magnesium, and titanium; and
• K: For use with vegetable oils, animal oils, and fats in cooking appliances.
"Before using an extinguisher, please keep in mind that the U. S. Fire Administration recommends that only people trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate! Contact your local fire department for training information."
A HUGE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ATTENDED
OUR ANNUAL COMMUNITY PICNIC
Fundraising shirts, sweatshirts, and hats: Remaining shirts are still for sale; to view images and for purchase information, see fundraising.
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:
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 took place on Thurs., October 15th; 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).
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.
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.