Weekly Update - September 24, 2021
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General Operation Updates
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) were honored to help an additional 100 Oregonians during their time of need. Through targeted outreach and additional need for those not yet participating in the state-led program throughout the year, the September 15 last call deadline for wildfire cleanup participation prompted nearly 100 new participants to join the program. These new members will be added to the overall total posted to the data dashboard and our crews will work through the full sequence of steps required to complete work on their properties. We are honored to help provide this important service for Oregonians one year after the tragic September 2020 wildfires.
ODOT/Task Force erosion mitigation measures proved effective during the storm and rain events the weekend of September 18. As we approach winter and wet weather ahead, we are committed to mitigating and reducing any potential erosion impacts caused by the September 2020 wildfires.
The arrival of rain and cooler weather also helps ease wildfire restrictions and risk. With eased restrictions, fire-damaged hazard tree removal work can accelerate in fire-impacted corridors before the wettest months.
We are proud to report that operations are complete in the Thielsen Fire area. All fire-damaged hazard trees have been evaluated and removed. With eased fire restrictions and in preparation for winter, work will continue to ramp up in the Highway 138 corridor and travelers can expect busy work zones and delays.
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 nearly 64% complete; hazard tree removal 65% complete
Hazard tree cutting and removal work is underway at mileposts 24, 27, 35, 38,54 and 57 and on private properties in the area, including at Taylor Park Road. With contractor transitions, work continues to ramp up with more crews being assigned to the area.
Echo Mountain Fire area Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area Debris removal nearly 90% complete; hazard tree removal 61% complete
(remainder of trees are on property sites participating in the state program)
Work on the final 13 properties — and any new additions following the September 15 deadline — started last week and will be completed in the coming weeks. Any remaining hazard trees in the fire area are on these pending home sites awaiting removal and this is scheduled to be completed in the coming month.
Holiday Farm Fire area Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126 Debris removal 82% complete; hazard tree removal along Highway 126 nearly complete
Hazard tree assessment and removal work is underway on private properties where crews are removing debris, and hazard tree crane work is underway at Highway 126 milepost 31. Crews have begun assessing and removing hazard trees on Good Pasture Road at the request of our Lane County partners. Crews continue to reassess hazard trees being monitored over time and area residents may see crews reassessing or re-marking various fire-damaged trees.
Riverside Fire area Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211 Debris removal complete awaiting final close-out steps; hazard tree removal 66% complete
Guardrail replacement work has started and will take approximately two months to complete. Rock scaling work has also started, but recent rainfall continues to dislodge and create falling rocks in the area. Until scaling work is complete, falling rocks will remain an extreme hazard. Hazard tree evaluation and cutting work is underway at mileposts 26-27, 42, 48 and 49 and at Carter Bridge. Crews continue to work diligently to keep communities safe and reopen the highway as scheduled in late fall 2021. Watch the video about why the highway remains closed.
Almeda Drive Fire area Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5
Debris removal complete, pending final closeout activities; hazard tree removal 88% complete
Archie Creek Fire area Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal complete, pending final closeout activities; hazard tree removal 38% complete
Hazard tree work is underway at mileposts 27-29 and in the Bogus Creek area. Debris removal is complete on all current participating properties pending final close-out activities. The Highway 138 corridor will become increasingly busy in the coming weeks as ODOT/Task Force crews ramp up work following eased fire restrictions and as other organizations and jurisdictions complete their work before the winter months.
South Obenchain Fire area Jackson County, northeast of Eagle Point, Highways 62 and 140 Debris removal complete, pending final closeout activities
Thielsen Fire area Eastern Douglas County, Highway 138 Operation complete; all contractors have demobilized
242 Fire area Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97 Debris removal 30% complete on the total 17 properties; hazard tree removal 56% complete
Hazard tree evaluation and removal work is complete at Collier State Park. Crews will begin mobilizing in the coming week to complete final debris removal on the remaining 12 properties with fire restrictions continuing to ease.
Topics of the Week
Committee activity during September 2021 legislative days — scheduled for this week — has been canceled. Updates and informational items are tentatively rescheduled for November.
Wildfire recovery and cleanup work is underway in many forms throughout fire-impacted areas. Our partners at the McKenzie River Trust were proud to share the latest on their restoration projects and the lifecycle of chinook salmon in the area as they restore habitat and spawning conditions next to our work crews in the same area.
Following a national trend, the City of Talent is rebuilding with fire-resistant and energy-efficient homes. Talent residents say they’re excited to see new construction.
Local art, music and commemorative events continue to serve as mechanisms for healing and remembering a year after the September 2020 wildfires. In the Rogue Valley, read about the song that a local artist released to commemorate the year.
County officials in fire-impacted communities will begin sending safety risk, or “nuisance,” letters to some property owners in the coming weeks. These letters will address both debris and hazard trees along roadways or on properties that require removal. Each county will have different code requirements and we encourage you to call county officials to become familiar with their local nuisance ordinances.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | 9/13 - 9/19
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: 3
Number of air samples collected: 7
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.