Weekly Update - September 3, 2021
We’re all in this together. Please help share this information with your networks and communities.
General Operation Updates
As we reflect on the past year, we thank Oregon communities and wildfire survivors for their collaboration, grit and resilient spirit. With the support of Oregonians throughout the state, this work has reopened local businesses, schools, summer camps, fish hatcheries and recreation areas. It’s cleared the way for rebuilding new lives and new housing options. It’s kept highways open and free of falling trees and other debris while providing wood for habitat, conservation projects and energy programs. Cleanup work has strived to preserve memories, equitably provide Oregon jobs and ensure that no more lives are lost to the 2020 wildfires. As work continues throughout the state, with most home sites now cleared and many rebuilding, we have been honored to help provide this critical first step in the recovery process.
As Oregon commemorates the one-year mark since the September 2020 wildfires, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) are recognizing a significant milestone with most home sites now cleared and many currently rebuilding. As work moves closer to completion, the Task Force has worked with local communities to set September 15 as the final deadline for participating in the state cleanup program. This deadline allows crews to assist property owners wishing to participate — or revisiting their decision to participate — in the program before contract crews finish work in a specific area. Anyone who would like to opt in or has questions about their individual situation can contact our hotline at 503-934-1700 and track our interactive status page.
With work winding down, some close-out activities may take slightly more time now than it did for previously completed properties or hazard tree operations. For debris removal, crews will continue to work on properties that have recently opted in before the September 15 deadline. These newly opted in properties require removing hazardous materials first and then the full sequence of cleanup steps to meet completion requirements and to provide a rebuild-ready site for wildfire survivors. The close-out process is also not uniform for all sites — some properties present unique situations and require more time to close out, including ensuring that rigorous environmental testing results are clear.
Hazard tree crews continue to coordinate wildfire restrictions and operational pauses, difficult terrain, and the process for reassessing dead or dying trees that are being monitored and revisited over time. They are also helping county partners by removing hazard trees in critical areas where they have requested assistance. While a significant majority of work has been completed to date, much work is still underway behind the scenes as part of the required sequence of steps.
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 51% complete; hazard tree removal 54% complete
Hazard tree cutting and removal work is underway at mileposts 22, 48, 51 and 54 and on private properties in the area, including at Taylor Park Road. With contractor transitions, work will continue to ramp up this month.
Echo Mountain Fire area Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area Debris removal 90% complete; hazard tree removal 61% complete
(remainder of trees are primarily on property sites participating in the state program)
Work is mostly complete in the area. Removing hazardous materials on remaining properties who opted into the program later in the process is now underway again. Any remaining hazard trees in the fire area awaiting removal are on these pending home sites.
Holiday Farm Fire area Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126 Debris removal 81% complete; hazard tree removal 75% 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 any hazard trees in the area being monitored over time.
Riverside Fire area Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211 Debris removal complete awaiting final close-out steps; hazard tree removal 66% complete
Hazard tree cutting work is underway at mileposts 35, 41 and 51 as crews navigate pauses and changing schedules for extreme wildfire conditions. Due to falling rocks, trees launching from steep slopes and other safety hazards, Highway 224 remains closed. Crews continue to work quickly in efforts to reopen the highway late this fall.
Almeda Drive Fire area Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5
Debris removal complete, pending final closeout activities
Archie Creek Fire area Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal complete, pending final closeout activities; hazard tree removal 37% complete
Hazard tree work has resumed after a brief pause due to wildfire conditions and is underway at mileposts 22-24. Debris removal is complete on all current participating properties pending final close-out activities. Task Force staff continue to coordinate with land management partners on wildfire restrictions and regulations.
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 Debris removal N/A; hazard tree removal is complete pending final closeout activities
242 Fire area Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97 Debris removal 30% complete on the total 17 properties; hazard tree removal 42% complete
Hazard tree removal continues in Collier State Park.
Topics of the Week
Starting late Friday, September 3, work will be paused in most wildfire recovery areas during the Labor Day Weekend to allow for efficient travel. Work will resume on Tuesday, September 7.
September is National Preparedness Month. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management issued a call to action for Oregonians to prepare for disasters during the one-year anniversary of the 2020 wildfires. Read their latest Wildfire Recovery Update reflecting on the progress made to help Oregon recover during the past year.
Fire-resilient building materials are becoming more popular in the Pacific Northwest as homebuilders work to adapt to annual wildfires.
Mill City plans to host a 2020 wildfire commemorative event at noon on Sunday, September 5 at Kimmel Park. The City of Detroit is holding a Labor Day Fire Remembrance at noon on Sunday, September 5 at Detroit City Park. Marion County and the Idanha-Detroit Fire Corps are hosting a memorial event for the 2020 Labor Day fires at the Idanha City Park on Monday, September 6 at 2 p.m. All are invited to commemorate those who passed and support those who survived.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | 8/23 - 8/29
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: 4
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 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.