☑ Weekly Update - Feb. 12, 2021
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General Operation Updates
Debris Management Task Force (DMTF) staff and contract crews launched into action this week to help house Oregonians in the southern end of the state. Crews quickly pivoted this week to begin work on 91 lots in the Talent Estates area, including asbestos testing to make way for debris removal work, so that those in need can move into the area through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) direct housing mission as quickly as possible. Debris removal work on 210 lots continues at the Bear Lake Estates mobile home park in Phoenix and crews have started work on 143 lots at Mountain View Estates in Talent.
Hazard tree marking and cutting continues to be most active in the Holiday Farm Fire burn area, east of Eugene, with work ramping up in other parts of the state soon. Crews are marking and cutting hazard trees determined by professional arborists and foresters, a major step forward towards replanting and rebuilding as part of the difficult recovery process. Work crews are taking swift action to keep people and services moving and ensuring these corridors are safe and clear for crews and travelers. In harder hit areas, this will have a significant impact on the look and feel of some of Oregon’s most beautiful areas. It is a shocking image to be confronted by, but working together we’re already on the right path towards recovery.
Removing hazard trees is the important first step towards recovery and replanting. As hazard trees are removed by crews with safety being the top priority, other state and federal partners are working to grow new Oregon forests. As part of our operations, we are hydro-seeding and mulching areas where trees were removed, using best practices to manage erosion and sediment. We also work closely with the state wildfire recovery natural resources task force, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other partners as plans are drafted for forest management and replanting. This team effort involves working with local community organizations like the McKenzie River Trust to donate logs for conservation projects and provide aquatic habitat trees to the USFS. We’re working closely with the USFS, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local governments and other organizations on mitigation efforts.
Weather could impact some operations this weekend, but crews are prepared for rain and snow. Safety remains a top priority, so there may be temporary pauses or stoppages when snow and ice present risks.
Track property-related progress by bookmarking and saving our interactive status map to see what’s happening in your area (note: the map currently does not include all hazard tree work).
By the numbers
Progress is continuing statewide.
Holiday Farm Fire area (Lane County, McKenzie River area): Activity continues to increase in this busiest hazard tree removal operation underway between mileposts 26-48. Local utility companies and other crews are also working in the busy area. An estimated 70,000 total hazard trees will be removed from the corridor. Chimney tipping is also underway on fire-impacted sites. Community reactions are strong in response to the dramatic and visible landscape changes underway and ongoing outreach and communications will continue through a variety of online, email, in-person and mail channels. Conversations continue with the USFS about moving hazard tree logs and related logistics on USFS land. Hazard tree work is being expedited between mileposts 36-38 in a spotted owl nesting area to avoid nesting season.
Echo Mountain Fire area (Lincoln County, Lincoln City area): Hazard tree removal work on impacted properties is underway, and work orders for ash and debris removal on properties will begin in the coming weeks. Prep for this work includes the final stages of environmental testing, placing address signs, coordinating with property owners and mobilizing crews. Wet weather continues to play a factor on the coast.
Riverside Fire area (Estacada area, Clackamas County): Hazard tree marking continues in state right-of-way areas and contractors are mobilizing crews and equipment while identifying staging areas. Crews will begin moving branches and woody debris this week. Ash and debris removal operations include environmental testing, placing address signs and coordinating with property owners.
Beachie Creek/Lionshead fire areas (Santiam River corridor, work primarily in Marion and Linn counties): Ash and debris removal is in the early stages as hazard trees continue to be marked on impacted properties. Work orders are expected for tree and slash cleanup, with ash and debris and tree cutting work beginning shortly. Chimney-tipping continues on impacted properties.
Almeda Drive Fire area (Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County): This fire area, in which more than 2,000 residential properties were burned, remains a high priority for the southern Oregon operation as cleanup work in some form is underway for a total of 444 lots this week. Significant progress continues on ash and debris removal for 210 lots in Phoenix at the Bear Lake Estate mobile home park. Crews are working on asbestos testing to make way for ash and debris removal work to allow for FEMA direct housing at the Talent Mobile Estates mobile home park (91 lots). Simultaneously, work has transitioned to the Mountain View Estates mobile home park (143 lots) in Talent. Air quality monitoring is underway for the safety of those remaining in the area.
Archie Creek Fire area (Douglas County): The beginning stages of hazard tree removal work east of Roseburg is underway. The DMTF team toured the 138E highway corridor with the USFS to discuss constraints and best practices as crews prepare to mobilize into the area. Staff continue to build strong relationships with partners like Glide Revitalization to help support locally-coordinated efforts. Ash and debris prep work continues by placing address signs. Tree marking continues and hazard tree removal work orders are expected soon.
Thielsen Fire area (eastern Douglas County): Due to higher elevation and snow, operations will increase later in the spring with a focus on hazard tree removal as warmer weather arrives. Contractor coordination and planning work continues.
242 Fire area (Klamath County): Planning work and coordination with Klamath County continues. Task force staff met with state officials in the corridor to discuss cultural resources and archaeological and environmental constraints to navigate. Staff are discussing potential partnerships with Oregon State Parks for cleanup on state park lands.
TOPICS OF THE WEEK
Hazard Trees in Waterways
Oregon’s waterways are a precious natural resource, and we’re working with partners to make sure they stay safe during cleanup. While tree cutting and removal to protect the waterway is currently not within the scope of the FEMA Step 2 hazard tree removal efforts, we’re taking steps to make sure the waterways are kept safe. In the event we fall a tree that threatens the highway and it inadvertently falls in the waterway, we will reach out to the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) and Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) to determine if it presents a threat to the waterway. If a threat exists, we will remove the tree. This type of activity is FEMA reimbursable because the tree originally presented a threat to the highway system. The DSL has jurisdiction of the waterways and OSMB plays a role because of their authority around water-related recreational activities.
Because of the significant recreational use of several river systems impacted by wildfires and the public risk that exists from hazard trees along these systems, representatives from the DMTF are engaged with FEMA to determine if public assistance extends to these waterways. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the members of the Oregon Natural and Cultural Resources Recovery Task Force are coordinating on the next steps to ensure these waterways are safe for recreational users and public infrastructure downstream.
Who Are the Certified Arborists?
The Debris Management Task Force prioritizes safety and tree health when assessing hazard trees. To manage this balance, arborists working with our Task force crews are certified, and required to have a professional resume which includes a certification with the International Society of Arboriculture verifying five years of experience in post forest fire assessments as well as a demonstrated understanding of forest management practices.
Think of an arborist as a tree surgeon who is a professional both educated and experienced in the practice of arboriculture, which is the study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants in dendrology and horticulture.
Understanding proper tree care and forest management is an investment in safety for the community and the vitality of our forests. And, having a team of certified professional arborists working with our crews is an invaluable resource in the post-fire resource assessment and felling of hazard trees. Because arborists specialize in the care of individual trees and forests, they are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained to properly assess the health of a fire-damaged tree. This clean-up and rebuild effort in areas with forests and trees could not effectively take place without the assistance and guidance of professional and certified arborists.
Protecting Northern Spotted Owls’ Nesting Season
Work is being expedited in the Holiday Farm Fire area and other locations near the northern spotted owl nesting areas. This scheduling will allow our crews time to finish before the birds’ nesting season.
The northern spotted owl is one of three spotted owl subspecies and is native to the Pacific Northwest. It is a medium-sized dark brown owl. There are roughly 1,200 pairs of northern spotted owls in Oregon and their numbers have diminished over several decades in the Pacific Northwest.
Our expedited operations near their nesting areas respect the importance of these key predators in the local woods they inhabit. The owls specifically keep rodent and other small animal populations in balance with their hunting prowess. Of critical importance, their existence and stability in numbers are vital indicators of forest health since their survival depends on the presence of diverse, robust evergreen forest ecosystems.
Protecting the northern spotted owl nesting season habitat is critical for the health of Oregon’s forests. Northern spotted owls are considered a federally-threatened species, so the Task Force’s targeted and purposeful effort is designed to ensure the northern spotted owl thrives in the forests of Oregon.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | Feb. 1 - Feb. 6
State debris removal contractors are controlling dust and watching out for dust in the air at every cleanup location. Contractors report their air quality monitoring results each week. See below for the most recent statewide report from all active debris cleanup locations.
Almeda Fire (near Phoenix and Talent)
Number of properties that had air sampling: 4
Number of samples collected: 12
Results above the action level: 0
If you want to learn more about the monitoring process, see our air quality monitoring FAQ.
You can always contact us directly via our hotline, especially if you have a nuanced question about your property: call 503-934-1700 or email email@example.com