Weekly Update - May 28, 2021


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General Operation Updates


An independent arborist continues work this week to review the Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) hazard tree operation and the process underway to mark dead or dying trees along state highways and near fire-damaged home sites. The independent contractor, Galen Wright, brings more than 30 years of Pacific Northwest arboriculture and forestry experience, including expertise in hazard tree analysis. He is scheduled to present his findings in early June. The Task Force looks forward to his findings and stands ready to implement any potential recommendations as part of our adaptive emergency response operation. In addition to Wright’s review, the hazard tree operation is part of the Oregon Secretary of State’s annual audit plan. Ongoing internal reviews continue and property owner notifications have been expanded to include proactive calls before tree marking begins.


Please plan accordingly for Memorial Day weekend travel and help your neighbors and Oregon’s recovery efforts by using alternate routes. Fire-impacted corridors continue to be extremely busy and travelers should plan for long delays. This is especially true for Highway 22 east of Salem, and in the Highway 138 Umpqua River corridor as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) begins to reopen recreation sites and boat ramps. We strongly recommend visiting TripCheck for the latest traffic delay updates and using alternate routes to avoid these areas.


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 nearly 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.


Northern Operations


  • Beachie Creek/Lionshead Fire areas (Santiam River corridor, primarily in Marion and Linn counties, Highway 22 and adjacent area): Debris removal in Detroit, Gates, and the surrounding area continues with close to half of home sites cleared. Moving from east to west, hazard tree marking work continues at milepost 39.5, and tree cutting continues between mileposts 33-35, 51-52 and 57-58. Debris removal work at the Upward Bound Camp property is nearly complete and we are in regular communication with the camp property owners. We ask all motorists to use alternate routes and to plan ahead for the Memorial Day weekend.

  • Echo Mountain Fire area (Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area): With 119 home sites cleared, additional work continues on 16 newly opted-in home sites.

  • Holiday Farm Fire area (Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126): Debris removal and hazard tree operations are more than halfway complete, and crews continue steady progress. Hazard tree removal work is complete at Blue River Community Park to allow for reopening soon. Hazard tree marking and tagging continues at milepost 32. Hazard tree cutting and removal is underway at mileposts 24, 32, 34 and 42 and at other local and county parks. Community members and travelers will continue to see significant differences in the landscape. Travelers can expect long traffic delays and are encouraged to use alternate routes.

  • Riverside Fire area (Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211): Upon discovering a peregrine falcon nest last week, crews swiftly adapted area operations to accommodate and protect its nesting habitat. Approximately 75% of debris removal work in the area is complete. Clackamas County and local partners will soon be announcing an opt-in deadline for Right of Entry (ROE) participation, likely later in June. Hazard tree assessment and marking work continues between mileposts 39.5-42. Cutting and removal work continues in four areas on the west and east ends of the corridor as crews also cut trees near mileposts 33 and 34. Due to falling rocks, trees launching from steep slopes and other numerous safety hazards, Highway 224 remains closed.



Southern Operations


  • 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. Debris removal is estimated to be 82% complete, and crews announced an opt-in deadline of June 7. Task Force crews continue to work with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on transitional housing opportunities. Hazard tree marking and removal continues along the Bear Creek Greenway and near fire-damaged home sites.

  • Archie Creek Fire area (Douglas County, Highway 138): About 40% of participating home sites are cleared and crews continue steady progress as hazard tree operations ramp up again. The opt-in deadline of June 15 was set for ROE form submittal to participate in the debris cleanup program. Hazard tree cutting and removal continues at milepost 28, at Susan Creek and 2410 Bar-L Ranch. Area crews are processing a large slash pile in the Glide area this week. BLM will re-open the corridor for river recreation in the coming weeks and travelers should expect traffic delays.

  • South Obenchain Fire area (Jackson County, northeast of Eagle Point, Highways 62 and 140): ROE agreements are complete for 16 properties and work plans are drafted to begin soon.

  • Thielsen Fire area (eastern Douglas County, Highway 138): With warmer weather arriving, snow is melting and crews have started hazard tree evaluation, tagging and marking work this weekend and will continue to ramp up in the coming weeks. With environmental assessments complete, crews are currently working at mileposts 76-80.

  • 242 Fire area (Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97): Crews have started hazard tree assessments on participating properties. Crews 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 with many culturally significant and culturally modified trees on the landscape.



Topics of the Week


  • The House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery heard a presentation from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Deputy Administrator Mac Lynde on Friday, May 21 and heard another update this morning (Friday, May 28).

  • Governor Kate Brown tweeted about the wildfire debris removal efforts accompanied by photos from a recent site visit in southern Oregon.

  • Know before you go this Memorial Day. Along with TripCheck, add Oregon’s recreation site status map to your resource list. It’s a must-check, one-stop shop for anyone exploring the outdoors this summer. Watch how to use it here.

  • Safety is a top priority for ODOT, the Task Force and for all wildfire recovery efforts. Disrupting a work site or removing tags from fire-damaged trees is not only extremely dangerous, it’s also against the law, costs Oregonians money and slows down progress.

  • Oregon makes it easier to rebuild homes after a wildfire. Passing through both the Oregon House and Senate unanimously, Senate Bill 405 allows property owners who lost their homes to wildfire to rebuild using the original zoning and planning standards in place when homes or structures were first built.

  • 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), BLM, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and other local partners. The Task Force calls on all Oregonians to be extra fire-wise and ensure that no more lives are lost this year. While our crews help create fire resilient areas and defensible space on fire-damaged properties by removing adjacent hazard trees, take stock of your property before it’s too late. Bookmark Keep Oregon Green for more information and keep tabs on large fire activity in Oregon.

  • Outreach with Oregon’s tribal community continues and Task Force leadership looks forward to attending tribal council meetings in the coming months. Close collaboration with tribal communities continues in southern Oregon and we look forward to continuing this critical partnership.

  • NewScientist published an article highlighting the increasingly common occurrence of ‘Zombie Fires’, (forest fires that burn in the summer then smolder over winter and reignite in spring) in Alaska and Canada.

Air Quality Monitoring Report | 5/17 - 5/23


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:


Almeda Fire

  • Number of properties that had air sampling: 5

  • Number of air samples collected: 23

  • 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: 1

  • Number of air samples collected: 6

  • Results above action level: 0

  • Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels

Beachie Creek Fire

  • Number of properties that had air sampling: 4

  • Number of air samples collected: 9

  • Results above action level: 0

  • Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels

Holiday Farm Fire

  • Number of properties that had air sampling: 1

  • Number of air samples collected: 12

  • Results above action level: 0

  • Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels


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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 elizabeth.mcintire@odot.state.or.us.

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.

Wildfire waste and debris removal

The State of Oregon is working with federal, state and local partners to remove hazardous waste, and ash and debris from the 2020 Oregon wildfires safely, efficiently, and as quickly as possible. The Oregon Departments of Transportation, Environmental Quality and Emergency Management are leading the effort, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistance.