Weekly Update - June 11, 2021
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General Operation Updates
As work continues to help keep wildfire-impacted communities safe, the independent arborist hired to review the state-led hazard tree process found that the operation is sound. The independent arborist contractor, Galen Wright, brought more than thirty years of Pacific Northwest arboriculture and forestry experience to his review, including expertise in hazard tree analysis. Mr. Wright’s review gave the operation an “A” grade and determined that the certified arborists and foresters working in the field possess the necessary expertise to make hazard tree determinations accurately—as evidenced by work to date. In addition to Mr. Wright’s report, the hazard tree operation is part of the Oregon Secretary of State’s annual audit plan and ongoing internal reviews for continuous improvement. Read the press release posted this week and watch the video showing the people, process and spirit working to help keep Oregon’s wildfire recovery areas safe and secure.
We know that this unprecedented emergency hazard tree removal effort is new to Oregon and that landscapes have changed significantly as a result of the 2020 wildfires. We know that with anything so tragically new, coupled with dramatically changing landscapes, that Oregonians will continue to have many questions and concerns. We’re here to help. We encourage everyone with questions, concerns or comments to call our hotline at 503-934-1700. We’ve also created a new online tool for property owners to learn more about hazard trees on their property and to schedule time with an arborist should they have additional questions.
Deadlines for participating in the state debris cleanup program have passed in Clackamas (May 31), Lane (June 1), and Jackson counties (June 7). The deadline for Douglas County is June 15. To date, we have received 15 new Right of Entry (ROE) forms statewide for property owners choosing to participate. For anyone still wishing to opt in, please call our hotline at 503-934-1700 to discuss potential options and how we can help.
By the Numbers
Step 2 of removing tree hazards began in December 2020 and will progress through multiple impacted areas simultaneously. We estimate it will take 6-18 months to complete all properties. In total, this work will require marking and cutting more than 140,000 hazard trees and removing ash and debris from more than 1,400 participating properties.
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 has passed the halfway mark in Detroit, Gates and the surrounding area with nearly 51% of home sites cleared as work moves forward. Moving from east to west, hazard tree and slash removal work continues between mileposts 33-35, 50-54 and 57-58. Hazard tree work is also underway near debris removal operations in Detroit. We ask all motorists to use alternate routes and to expect delays in the corridor.
Echo Mountain Fire area (Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area): With just a handful of home sites left to clear, work is nearly complete while a few home sites await household hazardous waste removal. Crews have resumed work after a brief pause and hazard trees are being marked and removed from debris cleanup properties in the area. After 20 new properties opted into the state cleanup program in May, work in the area is expected to be complete in the next 2-3 weeks.
Holiday Farm Fire area (Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126): Debris removal operations are nearly 55% complete and crews continue steady progress. Hazard tree removal work is complete at local parks to allow for reopening. Hazard tree work continues at mileposts 29-30, 33 and 42. Crews will be stacking logs in the Blue River area. Hazard tree work on properties continues in the Blue River area, in Lane County park areas, and at Ben and Kay Dorris State Park. Travelers can expect long traffic delays and are encouraged to use alternate routes.
Riverside Fire area (Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211): 74% of debris removal work in the area is complete and work is expected to be complete in the coming weeks. Clackamas County and local partners announced an ROE deadline and will continue to work with any remaining property owners wishing to participate. Hazard tree work continues between mileposts 43-46. Due to falling rocks, trees launching from steep slopes and other safety hazards, Highway 224 remains closed.
Almeda Drive Fire area (Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5): Eight crews are working on mobile home, single-family home and business sites. Hydro-mulching is underway on cleared sites and completion letters continue to be sent to property owners. Debris removal is an estimated 85% complete and forecast to be fully complete by the end of July. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) direct housing units arrived at the Totem Pole Mobile Home Park this week and a ceremony was held on Friday, June 11, hosted by FEMA.
Archie Creek Fire area (Douglas County, Highway 138): More than half of participating home sites are cleared and crews expect to complete area debris cleanup by the end of July. Hazard tree cutting and removal continues in the area, and those operations will continue to ramp up. Area crews are relocating a large slash pile currently in the Glide area.
South Obenchain Fire area (Jackson County, northeast of Eagle Point, Highways 62 and 140): Planning and scoping work has begun and crews expect to begin the steps of debris removal on 17 home sites next week.
Thielsen Fire area (eastern Douglas County, Highway 138): Hazard tree cutting crews are working at milepost 77 and is moving east toward Diamond Lake as crews progress on the operation. Motorists should expect lane closures with flaggers and delays when traveling in the area.
242 Fire area (Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97): With nearly all fire-damaged hazard trees evaluated and marked, cutting and removal crews are mobilizing to the area. Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) leadership and staff attended an event with Oregon State Parks leadership to celebrate the partnership between Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Task Force and State Parks at Collier State Park. Crews and staff continue to work with Oregon State Parks, the tribal community and other public land managers on best practices for navigating terrain constraints and accessing fire-damaged and marked trees in the area.
Meet Joan Williamson and listen to her touching story about survival, community, and her appreciation of ODOT’s commitment to recovery and rebuilding.
Topics of the Week
No legislative updates are currently scheduled. The current state legislative session is scheduled to end on June 28. To watch previous updates, visit the pages for the House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery or the Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery Committee.
Looks can be deceiving. Trees that look alive or those still with green needles or leaves can often tell a very different story upon closer inspection. See for yourself in this Instagram post.
ODOT, the Task Force and Oregon State Parks leadership attended a celebration event at Collier State Park on Monday, June 7. The event highlighted the progress made to clear tree debris from the park grounds and the successful partnership between the three organizations.
Jerry Marmon, the Task Force’s southern Oregon Operations Chief, was invited to present at the June 11 League of Oregon Cities annual event. Marmon will provide an update on progress in the Almeda, Archie, Obenchain, Thielsen, and 242 Fire areas and share news about timelines and next steps including lessons learned.
With crews working around the clock to keep communities safe and helping to reopen parks and other areas, Detroit, Oregon was pleased to welcome visitors back to the area. Watch our interview with a local business owner and his thoughts on what it takes to recover.
After the Riverside Fire. Read how area residents like Paul Clement are rebuilding and replanting as they look to the future.
Wildfire survivors in need of vital records can access them for free through the Oregon Health Authority as of June 1. Certified copies will be provided free of charge.
Jackson County commissioned a report to review their response during the Almeda and Obenchain fires. The story and report can be read here.
River users will continue to face challenges related to hazard trees in waterways, especially as the summer recreation season unfolds. Visitors are called on to use extra caution.
Task Force operations staff and crews continue to plan and coordinate with state and federal partners for work during wildfire season. Ongoing planning and strategies such as ensuring increased communication through radios and having water tankers on site are just a few of the planning efforts underway with the United States Forest Service (USFS), U.S, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and others to ensure fire-wise operations.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | 5/31 - 6/6
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:
Number of properties that had air sampling: 1
Number of air samples collected: 3
Results above action level: 0
Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels
Archie Creek Fire
Number of properties that had air sampling: 2
Number of air samples collected: 8
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 DMTF 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.