☑ Weekly Update - May 7, 2021


We’re all in this together. Please help share this information with your networks and communities.

General Operation Updates


We understand and sympathize with the range of responses to a post-fire recovery operation that is new to Oregon, and the distressing experience of reliving the destruction left from the 2020 wildfires. We take all claims related to this unprecedented operation seriously and look ahead to continuing to deliver critical wildfire recovery work for Oregon. Following public comments and claims made by individuals, we immediately begin an internal review of any general claims made. If the outcome of a review substantiates an offense, additional and corrective action is taken. We also understand that the operation’s monitoring firm is launching a similar investigation. Currently, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is drafting a contract procedure for hiring an independent arborist/forester to also provide an additional level of oversight to the rigorous hazard tree evaluation process currently underway.


We recognize that the devastation left by the 2020 wildfires will continue to be traumatic for all Oregonians, especially for impacted communities and the nearly 4,000 people who lost their homes and livelihoods. We’ve provided tools to help Oregonians during these challenging times as a place to turn and a pathway to resolve questions or concerns. We encourage everyone to call our hotline at 503-934-1700 so that we can work together to help find solutions.


Sampling soil for contaminants is a critical final step before cleanup is complete. If the soil is disturbed or tampered with, crews must restart the testing process. Help your neighbors rebuild sooner by not disturbing active debris removal areas. Please share this important message with your neighbors and communities.


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.


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. Cleanup work at Kane’s Marina is complete and was cleared in partnership with local officials to support tourism and economic development efforts in the area. Moving from east to west, hazard tree marking continues at milepost 38, and tree removal continues between mileposts 33-35, 57-58 and 60-61. Debris Management Task Force (DMTF) leadership appreciated a recent productive property site visit with the City of Gates Mayor Ron Carmickle. While motorists should expect long traffic delays, crews are working longer week days in order to alleviate congestion during the weekend for area residents and other travelers. 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 just 16 home sites left to clear, work is nearly complete. Pending final soil samples, it is anticipated cleanup work in the Echo Mountain Fire area will wrap up by the end of the month. Work at the Salmon River Mobile Village is complete awaiting final soil testing results.

  • Holiday Farm Fire area (Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126): Debris removal and hazard tree operations are nearly 40% complete as crews continue significant progress on all recovery efforts. Work on the Lazy Days RV Park is wrapping up to allow for emergency housing. Hazard tree marking and tagging continues between mileposts 30-36 and 40-43. Hazard tree removal is underway at mileposts 43-44 and at local and county parks, including Blue River Park, to assist with reopening timelines. 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): Debris removal at the 32 area home sites is estimated 30% complete. Clackamas County and local partners will soon announce a final call for Right of Entry (ROE) participation forms before debris removal crews mobilize from the area. All assessments and markings of safely accessible hazard trees is complete. Cutting and removal work continues as crews cut trees at mileposts 31.6 and 47.6. Portland General Electric (PGE) and other utility companies continue work adjacent to power lines. Due to falling rocks, trees launching from steep slopes and other safety hazards, Highway 224 remains closed.


Southern Operations

  • Almeda Drive Fire area (Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate-5): To date, more than 179,000 tons of ash and debris has been removed from the Almeda fire area. 20 crews are currently working on mobile home, single-family home and business sites and cleanup is estimated to be 72% complete. With crews transitioning around the area, the pace will remain steady but will slow slightly as crews travel longer distances between sites. Hazard tree marking and removal continues along the Bear Creek Greenway and near debris removal sites. Oregon Governor Kate Brown and state leadership visited the cleared Mountain View Estates property last Thursday, April 29.

  • Archie Creek Fire area (Douglas County, Highway 138): Debris removal work is estimated at 35% complete as crews continue steady progress in the Rock Creek area and surrounding community. Hazard tree crews continue work at Baker Wayside Park and milepost 28. Crews and DMTF leadership continue to assess and plan for protecting culturally significant sites in the corridor. Due to this, the pace of hazard tree removal work has paused momentarily.

  • South Obenchain Fire area (Jackson County, northeast of Eagle Point, Highways 62 and 140): ROE agreements are complete for 17 properties and work plans are currently being drafted to begin soon.

  • Thielsen Fire area (eastern Douglas County, Highway 138): With warmer weather arriving, snow is melting and crews will start hazard tree evaluation, tagging and marking work this weekend and will continue to ramp up work in the coming weeks.

  • 242 Fire area (Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97): Hazard tree marking is complete at Collier State Park and hazard tree removal work has started. Crews will begin hazard tree assessments on properties participating in the state debris cleanup program this week.



Topics of the Week


  • The Oregon House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery heard a presentation from a range of perspectives on Friday, April 30. Local officials and watershed leaders spoke to the positive recovery work underway. Regularly scheduled legislative status updates resume May 7.

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reached a deal with the owners of the site of the former Coleman Creek Estates in Phoenix and will begin placing temporary emergency housing units on the property before the end of May.

  • The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is ramping up post-fire work recovery work in the Archie Creek Fire corridor. This includes releasing their latest environmental assessment and kicking off salvage and other hazard tree operations soon.

  • May is Wildfire Awareness Month, and our partners at Keep Oregon Green are sharing helpful tips for planning, preparing and being ready. This year’s campaign focuses specifically on how to get your home or property ready for what could be another severe wildfire season.

  • Almost all of Oregon is poised for drought to start this summer. With very little precipitation recorded in April—and less expected for May—experts predict another very dry summer creating challenges for the 2021 wildfire season.

  • According to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), damaged trees from the 2020 wildfires are more susceptible to damage from native beetles. These beetles go after fire-weakened pines and Douglas firs, creating another obstacle for tree health and the survivability of these fire-damaged dead or dying hazard trees. To learn more, visit ODF’s tree health page.

  • Fire-impacted corridors continue to be extremely busy with wildfire recovery activity. We ask that all motorists help us help Oregon by using alternate routes and planning accordingly for Memorial Day weekend. Motorists and community members should expect long delays. We strongly recommend checking TripCheck for the latest traffic delay updates and using alternate routes to avoid these areas.

  • On the doorstep of another potentially severe wildfire season, it takes everyone to avoid another 2020. We’re working with both federal and state wildfire and land management partners to plan for and coordinate efforts as fire season approaches. We are calling on all Oregonians to be extra fire-wise and work to 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.


Air Quality Monitoring Report | 4/26 - 5/2


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: 12

  • Number of air samples collected: 29

  • 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: 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: 2

  • 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 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.