Weekly Update - August 27, 2021
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General Operation Updates
As debris and hazard tree removal work moves closer to completion, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) staff are working with local counties and communities to share the new statewide September 15 final deadline for participating in the state cleanup program. This deadline allows crews to assist property owners wishing to participate in the program before crews finish work in specific areas. Anyone who would like to opt in or has questions about their individual situation should contact our hotline at 503-934-1700 and track our interactive status page.
As work begins to wind down, some close-out activities will take longer than already completed properties and hazard tree operations. For debris removal, crews will continue to work on properties that have recently opted in. These newly opted-in properties require removing hazardous materials first before the full sequence of cleanup steps to meet completion requirements. The close-out process is also not uniform for all sites—some properties have unique situations and require more time or tests to close out, including ensuring that rigorous environmental testing results are clear. For the remaining hazard trees, crews continue to maneuver wildfire restrictions and operational pauses, difficult terrain and the process for reassessing dead or dying trees that are being monitored and revisited over time.
By the Numbers
Step 2 began in December 2020 and will progress through multiple impacted areas simultaneously. We estimate it will take up to 18 months to complete all properties. In total, this work will require marking and cutting more than 100,000 hazard trees and removing ash and debris from more than 3,000 participating lots, including individual home and commercial property sites.
Below is a summary of the work that has been completed thus far:
Current “By the Numbers” updates are available on the debris and tree removal data dashboard. The interactive status map on the same page provides a visual of all work underway.
Beachie Creek/Lionshead Fire areas Santiam River corridor, primarily in Marion and Linn counties, Highway 22 and adjacent area Debris removal 51% complete; hazard tree removal 51% complete
Hazard tree cutting and removal work is underway at mileposts 22, 48, 51 and 55 and on private properties in the area. With contractor transitions, work continues to ramp up.
Echo Mountain Fire area Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area Debris removal 90% complete; hazard tree removal 59% complete
(remainder of trees are primarily on property sites participating in the state program)
Work is mostly complete in the area while remaining properties opting into the program later in the process await household hazardous materials removal. Any remaining hazard trees in the fire area are on these pending home sites.
Holiday Farm Fire area Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126 Debris removal 81% complete; hazard tree removal 75% complete
Hazard tree assessment and removal work is underway on private properties where crews are removing debris and in the Blue River Road area and Highway 126 milepost 31. Crews will begin removing hazard trees on Good Pasture Road as part of an agreement with our Lane County partners. Crews continue to reassess any hazard trees in the area being monitored over time.
Riverside Fire area Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211 Debris removal complete awaiting final close-out steps; hazard tree removal 64% complete
Hazard tree cutting work is underway at mileposts as crews navigate pauses and changing schedules for extreme wildfire conditions. Due to falling rocks, trees launching from steep slopes and other numerous safety hazards, Highway 224 remains closed. Crews continue to work quickly in efforts to reopen the highway in the late fall.
Almeda Drive Fire area Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5
Debris removal 100% complete, awaiting final closeout tasks
Debris removal complete, pending final close-out activities. Property owners will receive completion letters shortly pending environmental testing, hydro-mulching and any necessary hazard tree work.
Archie Creek Fire area Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal complete; hazard tree removal 37% complete
Hazard tree work has resumed after a brief pause due to wildfire conditions. Helicopter tree work is underway at milepost 23. Debris removal is complete on all current participating properties pending final close-out activities. Operations staff have received questions and concerns about hazard trees in snow zones and crews are working to remove these dead or dying trees before winter weather.
South Obenchain Fire area Jackson County, northeast of Eagle Point, Highways 62 and 140 Debris removal 100% complete, awaiting final closeout tasks
Any remaining hazard trees are on private properties awaiting work orders as part of the final close-out process.
Thielsen Fire area Eastern Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal N/A; hazard tree removal is complete
242 Fire area Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97 Debris removal 30% complete on the total 17 properties; hazard tree removal 42% complete
A temporary pause continues due to fire conditions.
Topics of the Week
United States (U.S.) Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) toured the Almeda Fire area and Phoenix, Oregon this week. Conversations centered on housing, rebuilding and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement solutions looking forward. U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader (Oregon, 5th District) will tour the Highway 224 corridor with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on August 31. The short tour will focus on USFS forest roads and recreation sites only.
Please take a moment to recognize the loss of life and extreme danger that wildland firefighters and Task Force crews experience each day. Amidst fire, falling trees and hazard trees, and often difficult terrain, these individuals risk their lives for Oregon communities daily. We are sad to report that a firefighter was lost battling the Middle Fork Complex in Lane County.
As wildfire survivors in Paradise, CA continue to remove hazard trees and rebuild three years after the Camp Fire, community members are looking for creative ways to improve wildfire resiliency. One strategy underway is buying high fire-risk properties - most are currently burned - and creating green and fire-resilient spaces through these purchases.
Environmental public health groups hosted a virtual event August 26 to talk about potential toxins left behind by wildfire. We’re proud to deliver a diligent process for removing hazardous materials and asbestos during the first step of the cleanup process and rigorous post-cleanup testing before a cleared fire-impacted property is complete.
In response to increased hazard tree removal work along USFS roads and recreation areas near the Riverside, Beachie/Lionshead and Holiday Farm Fire areas, a lawsuit was filed. This work is not part of the state debris or hazard tree removal program.
Task Force staff continue productive work with the Secretary of State’s office on their annual audit. ODOT and Task Force leadership appreciate the collaborative process and the in-depth questions and discussions underway. We look forward to implementing any potential recommendations provided in the spirit of the adaptive and evolving nature of this work.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | 8/16 - 8/22
Local environmental health is one of our top priorities. In addition to conducting required asbestos testing in an efficient manner for all debris removal home sites, state contractors are visually monitoring and controlling dust to protect air quality during ash and debris cleanup work. If dust issues occur, our crews will stop work and fix the issue before resuming to protect public health. You can view the latest soil sampling FAQs on our news page. Questions about dust from private contractors are not part of state cleanup work and can be directed to local city and county public health departments.
Each week, contractors report their visual monitoring results, and the testing labs report their sample test results for active work areas. Recent results include:
Beachie Creek Fire
Number of properties that had air sampling: 1
Number of air samples collected: 6
Results above action level: 0
Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels
The “action level” is the threshold for action at a site, or from a lab test result. Learn more about action levels, how we control dust and test air samples in our air quality monitoring FAQ.
For specific air quality monitoring data, email Liz McIntire with the Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about hazard tree removal in your community, our hotline can help point you in the right direction. Please access information from your local county government first, and then call our hotline at 503-934-1700 if you need more information.