Wildfire Recovery Update - November 19, 2021
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General Operation Updates
As wildfire recovery is an arduous and traumatic multi-year journey, the critical first step of clearing debris is complete in most areas and continues to get closer to the finish line statewide. This helps clear the way for rebuilding homes, businesses and communities, and to prepare for the next steps in Oregon’s recovery process. With nearly 98% of all participating sites cleared and sent a formal completion letter, more than 85% of dead or dying hazard trees have also been cut or removed to keep communities and travelers safe. Ahead of the initial 18-month timeline, debris removal work is expected to be complete by the end of this year while hazard tree work will continue through the wet winter months.
Post-wildfire landslides and flooding remain a threat to Oregon with the arrival of wet winter weather. The aftermath and landscapes resulting from wildfires in 2020 and 2021 pose extreme challenges to populated areas and places where people live, work, recreate and travel. With safety being a top priority, Oregonians are urged to plan ahead as the state faces increased risk of flooding and landslides in post-wildfire areas as a result of the fires.
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 nearly 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 95% complete; hazard tree removal 80% complete
With hazard tree cutting on Highway 22 nearly complete, work continues to remove log decks, clean out ditches and hydro-mulch areas where trees have been removed. Six additional crews are working on hazard tree removal on private property and county-maintained roads, rights of way areas and county parks. No flagging operations will be in place November 19-28.
Echo Mountain Fire area Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area Ash and debris and hazard tree removal work are complete for final properties
Properties that enrolled near the enrollment deadline are awaiting hydro-mulch and final closeout steps.
Holiday Farm Fire area Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126 Debris removal 97% complete and close to completion; hazard tree removal 86% complete
Hazard tree removal work has restarted along Highway 126 to address trees that did not survive the first year and following initial hazard assessments. Hazard tree removal work on county-maintained roads continues with multiple crews on Good Pasture Road. No flagging operations will be in place November 19-28.
Riverside Fire area Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211 Ash and debris removal work is complete, awaiting final close-out steps; hazard tree removal 95% complete
Hazard tree cutting is complete on Highway 224 and crews are working to complete log deck and chip removal, ditch cleanout and hydro-mulching work. With Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) hazard tree operations wrapping up in December, ongoing highway closure coordination and information will be managed by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Region 1 as maintenance staff manage guardrail and signage installation and roadway repairs.
Almeda Drive Fire area Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5
Debris removal complete, pending final close-out activities; hazard tree removal 88% complete
Final properties that enrolled near the enrollment deadline are scheduled for cleanup. Crews have mobilized to final properties that enrolled late into the program prior to the enrollment deadline and will continue following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Archie Creek Fire area Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal complete, pending final close-out activities; final properties are scheduled for cleanup; hazard tree removal 73% complete
Hazard tree work is underway at mileposts 28-30, 30.5-32 and 35-37. Debris removal is complete on all current participating properties pending final close-out activities. Properties that enrolled near the enrollment deadline are complete and awaiting final hydro-mulching steps. Hauling, decking and chipping operations to the Glide industrial area are ongoing. The Highway 138 corridor continues to be increasingly busy as ODOT/Task Force crews and other organizations continue operations and strive to 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 close-out activities; final properties are scheduled for cleanup
Task Force management is in coordination with Jackson County for removal of trees along county-managed roads primarily in the South Obenchain Fire area. Crews are preparing to mobilize to the few final properties that enrolled near the enrollment deadline.
Thielsen Fire area Eastern Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal N/A; hazard tree removal is complete
242 Fire area Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97 Debris removal 77% complete on a total of 17 properties; hazard tree removal 81% complete
Crews are making quick progress on hazard tree operations along Highway 97. Traffic control measures continue to be implemented as part of this. Ash and debris crews are currently working on completing final debris removal on the remaining four properties.
Topics of the Week
Oregon’s November Legislative Days were held this week. Debris cleanup and wildfire recovery work was mentioned at the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Oregon House Committee on Wildfire Recovery and briefly at the Joint Committee on Transportation. The Oregon Secretary of State review of the cleanup operation released in October was rescheduled to the Joint Audit Committee’s January agenda for a presentation.
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board is accepting applications for 2020 Post-Wildfire Recovery Grants. The grants provide funding for eligible upland and riparian replanting efforts and floodplain restoration work and a long list of community partners are eligible to apply.
Discussions and legal action continue related to post-fire forest and hazard tree management operations. The work remains contentious as federal land management agencies share their plans for keeping forest users and communities safe and reopening recreation areas. Federal land managers also continue to experience protest activity in the Santiam Canyon and elsewhere.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | 11/1 - 11/14
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: 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 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.