Wildfire Recovery Update - November 5, 2021
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General Operation Updates
While wildfire recovery is an arduous multiyear journey, the critical first step to clear wildfire debris continues to get closer to the finish line. With more than 95% of all participating sites cleared and sent a formal completion letter, more than 75% of dead or dying hazard trees have been cut or removed to keep Oregon’s communities and travelers safe. Debris removal work is expected to be complete by the end of this year, ahead of the initial 18-month timeline. Hazard tree work will continue through the wet winter months at a slower pace due to weather.
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)/ Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) erosion mitigation measures continue to prove effective during recent storm and rain events. Dramatically altered post-wildfire landscapes pose challenges to populated areas and places where people recreate, live and travel. However, as we continue our late fall and winter operation, we are committed to finding solutions and reducing any potential erosion impacts caused by the 2020 wildfires. Oregonians are urged to plan ahead as the state faces an increased risk of flooding and landslides following wildfire seasons.
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 87% complete; hazard tree removal 74% complete
With hazard tree cutting nearly complete, crews have shifted operations to chipping slash, log deck removal, ditch cleanout and hydro-mulching along Highway 22. Chipping operations continue at milepost 56.
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; hazard tree removal 85% complete
Properties that enrolled near the enrollment deadline are awaiting hydro-mulching and final closeout steps. Private property tree work is underway in the Durrett Road area. Work in this area is expected to be complete by Thanksgiving.
Holiday Farm Fire area Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126 Debris removal 95% complete and close to completion; hazard tree removal 77% complete
Hazard tree removal work has restarted along Highway 126 to address trees that did not survive monitoring assessments after the first year and following initial hazard assessments. Crews began this phase of cutting operations near Rainbow and will work west over the next month. Hazard tree removal work on county-maintained roads continues near Good Pasture and Blue River at the request of county partners.
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 nearly complete with extensive log deck and chip removal, ditch cleanout and hydro-mulching work remaining for hazard tree operations. As work nears completion along Highway 224, ODOT must also complete significant rock scaling, guardrail installation and roadway repairs prior to reopening the highway.
Almeda Drive Fire area Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5
Debris removal complete, pending final close-out activities; final properties are scheduled for cleanup; hazard tree removal 88% complete
Crews are preparing to mobilize to the final properties that enrolled near the enrollment deadline.
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 67% complete
Hazard tree work is underway at mileposts 35 to 37. Debris removal is complete on all current participating properties pending final close-out activities. Properties that enrolled near the enrollment deadline will soon be placed on a work order with cleanup anticipated to begin next week. Hauling, decking and chipping operations to the Glide industrial area are ongoing. The Highway 138E corridor remains increasingly busy 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 close-out activities; final properties are scheduled for cleanup
Task Force management is coordinating with Jackson County for removal of trees along county-managed roads primarily in the South Obenchain fire area later this fall or early winter. Crews are preparing to mobilize to the 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 71% complete on a total of 17 properties; hazard tree removal 60% complete
Crews started hazard tree removal work along Highway 97 this week. Traffic control measures are being implemented as part of this cleanup. Ash and debris crews are working on completing final debris removal on the remaining five properties this month.
Topics of the Week
November Legislative Days are currently scheduled the week of November 15 and the Joint Committee on Transportation is tentatively scheduled to hear a short wildfire cleanup update on November 17 at 2 p.m. The ODOT/Task Force will share what was scheduled for September and provide a short update on significant progress made, current status and a reflection on lessons learned.
The process for working with and supporting property owners through their insurance process and any potential duplication of benefits is underway and a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be posted shortly for facilitating this work. Please share the link about this process and what to expect with your neighbors and communities.
Oregon will receive the second highest amount of recovery aid in the country to aid in the continued recovery from the 2020 wildfires.
For wildfire survivors who sustained losses or damage, help with testing domestic wells continues to be available. The project is available through May 15, 2023 and is managed by the Oregon Health Authority.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | 10/18 - 10/31
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: 4
Number of air samples collected: 21
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.