Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall Prescribed Burning to Begin This Week Across the Deschutes National Forest

Fall Prescribed Burning to Begin This Week Across the Deschutes National Forest
Ignitions planned South and West of Bend and outside of Sisters

CENTRAL OREGON – Starting as early as Thursday, fuels specialists on the Deschutes National Forest intend to ignite several prescribed burns across the forest beginning east of Highway 97, 1 mile west of Horse Butte along the south side of Bend, and 3 miles west of Sisters, adjacent to Black Butte Ranch. If conditions remain favorable fuels specialists will continue burning a unit 3 miles northwest of Wickiup Reservoir on either Friday or Saturday and will move west of Bend at the beginning of next week with two additional prescribed burns.

The prescribed burns scheduled for Thursday include an 80-acre unit south of Bend is located within the congressionally designated Deschutes Skyline Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration boundary which receives funding towards accelerated forest restoration and a 51 acre prescribed burn outside of Sisters that is part of the Glaze Meadow Forest Restoration Project. The project objectives for the burn south of Bend include reducing hazardous fuels and creating defensible space within the wildland urban interface. The burn objectives for the Glaze Meadow unit outside of Sisters include improving and invigorating aspen growing conditions to address the declining health of aspen habitats.

On Friday or Saturday, fuels specialists are planning to burn a 281 acre unit 3 miles northwest of Wickiup Reservoir. There is a possibility of continuing to burn in the South Bend area west of Horse Butte if conditions remain favorable.

Finally, additional prescribed burns are scheduled west of Bend beginning on Monday. The first is COD 9, a 78 acre unit within the West Bend Project area about 3 miles southwest of Bend, across from Widgi Creek Golf Course. Next up could be “Wet Unit 3,” an 85 acre unit south of Skyliner’s road on the east side of the Skyliner subdivision.

All prescribed burns have been scheduled to take advantage of the cooler and more humid fall season, which minimizes the detrimental impacts of a summer wildfire by consuming surface fuels and reducing shrub and small tree densities. These prescribed fire projects are being conducted to reduce the threat of large scale wildfire to the community of Bend.

No road closures are anticipated with any of the projects although drivers can expect road flaggers on Skyliner’s Road during periods of time where dense smoke may limit visibility. Smoke from the South Bend unit will likely impact Woodside Ranch residences, particularly those located along Ridgeview Drive.  Smoke from the West Bend COD burn could impact the Highlands subdivision and the golf course in Tetherow as well as Widgi Creek, Entrada, and Inn of the 7th Mountain, which are also nearby. Smoke from the Wet Unit 3 burn will impact Skyliner residents.

Residences and businesses in the areas of all of these prescribed burns are advised to keep their windows and doors closed during the night hours to avoid any potential smoke impacts.  If smoke drifts on to local roads, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care.  Residences and businesses in the area are advised to keep their windows and doors closed during the night hours to avoid any potential smoke impacts. 

Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires, and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.  Once ignited, units are monitored and patrolled until they are declared out. 

For more information, visit the Deschutes National Forest website at and follow us on Twitter @CentralORFire.  

Two recent fires are a reminder of fire danger

As hunting season gets underway, fire managers want to remind everyone that fire danger is still a concern in Central Oregon, even though campfires are allowed in most places on federal public lands.

On Friday afternoon, firefighters responded to a small, human-caused fire on the Ochoco National Forest. An investigation determined the fire was caused by an exploding Tannerite target.

Yesterday, firefighters responded to another fire on the Ochoco National Forest, determined to have started sometime over the weekend from a campfire that was not properly extinguished.

The campers had since left and it was apparent they had put some water on the fire and mixed in dirt. Covering the fire in dirt allowed the unextinguished embers to smolder and later creep out into nearby duff and pine litter igniting a fire.

“Nighttime temperatures are dropping, but we still haven’t received much precipitation in Central Oregon since early July,” said Fire Prevention Specialist Stacy Lacey. “We’re asking everyone spending time out in the woods this fall to be vigilant with fire. That includes minding your campfire, being careful where you shoot, and following the prohibition on exploding targets.” 

Fire managers want to remind everyone that exploding targets, tracer ammo and incendiary ammo are illegal on public lands in Oregon and Washington. See attached flyer for some simple, easy precautions to take when shooting on public land.

Also, campfires are still prohibited on private and state-administered lands in Central Oregon, so check with the local Rural Fire Protection Districts on current restrictions.

Or stop by the Hunter’s Information Booth today through Friday in front of Ray’s Market, 1535 NE Third Street, in Prineville to get the answers to all of your questions about hunting, camping, campfires, and driving on federal, state, county and private lands across central and eastern Oregon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Prescribed burn planned near Mill Creek this week

Fire managers on the Ochoco National Forest plan to conduct the 400-acre Squirrel Ridge prescribed burn near Mill Creek Wilderness later this week, pending favorable weather conditions.

Last week’s wave of precipitation across Central Oregon, combined with cooler daytime temperatures, provides a window of opportunity this week to successfully complete this fuels treatment before another predicted rain event arrives this weekend.

If predicted rain arrives early, fire managers may try to complete this treatment early next week as conditions allow.

Objectives for the Squirrel Ridge prescribed burn include improving upland forage conditions for both livestock and big game animals, and reducing hazardous fuels in accordance with the Crook County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

This prescribed burn will complete a 736-acre fuels treatment project that fire managers began working on in 2013.

Ignitions are expected to last one or two days, with smoke being visible in the area for several days following. Light smoke will be visible from Highway 26 and along Forest Road 33, and other nearby forest roads, during active burn periods.

Fuels specialists follow policies outlined in the Oregon Smoke Management Plan, which governs prescribed fires (including pile burning) and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.

The Forest appreciates public tolerance of temporary smoke conditions in support of these restoration goals.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fire restrictions reduced on federal lands in Central Oregon

PRINEVILLE, Ore. – Due to the recent pulse of moisture across Central Oregon,  MOST public use restrictions have been dropped on the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, the Prineville BLM District, and the Crooked River National Grassland, effective immediately.

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level has been reduced to Level 2 “Partial Hootowl,” meaning chainsaws must still shut down between 1 pm and 8 pm.

On federal lands, the public can once again enjoy campfires in most designated campgrounds and at dispersed camping sites, including in wilderness. All restrictions on smoking, or the use of portable stoves and grills, have been lifted.

On the Prineville BLM District, seasonal campfire restrictions remain in effect along the John Day River until September 30, and along portions of the Crooked and White River and all of the Lower Deschutes until October 15. (See below).

Long-standing restrictions on campfires at Hosmer Lake on Deschutes National Forest also remain in effect, due to the dry cattails and rushes, and the boat-in only access.

Effective today, personal use firewood cutting can resume within the hours designated under IFPL 2.

Recent moisture has reduced the fire danger level to “Moderate,” but fire danger still exists.

Please ensure campfires are attended at all times, and make sure your fire is DEAD OUT before leaving your camp site.

Under IFPL 2, a one-hour fire watch is required following shutdown of the last power-driven equipment for the day.

Read more about IFPL here:

For updated information on fire restrictions, call the fire restriction hotline at Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center:  1-800-523-4737

Officials also want to remind the public that fireworks, explosives and exploding targets are banned on FS and BLM lands in Oregon and Washington.

Campfire bans remain in effect on private and state-administered lands across Central Oregon. Check with your local Rural Fire Protection District for the status of local fire restrictions.

More info on Prineville BLM seasonal restrictions can be found here:

Fire restrictions remain in place until October 15, 2015 on public lands:

Crooked River
Within 1/2 mile of the river's edge along the Lower Crooked River from the Highway 97 bridge to Lake Billy Chinook.

Deschutes River
Within 1/2 mile of the river's edge from the Highway 20 bridge to Lake  Billy Chinook; including  all BLM-administered lands north of the Jefferson county line and between the Deschutes River  and Crooked River.
Within 1/2 mile of Lake Simtustus (between Round Butte Dam and Pelton Dam),

Within the Lower Deschutes National Wild and Scenic River  corridor (Pelton Dam to the Columbia

Lake Billy Chinook
Those public lands located within 1/2 mile of Lake Billy Chinook; including BLM Beach dispersed recreation site located approximately 1/2 mile east of the Three Rivers Recreation Area on the south shore of the Metolius River Arm of the lake.

White River
Within 1/2 mile of the river's edge from its confluence with the Deschutes River upstream to the
eastern boundary of the Mount Hood National Forest.

Fire restrictions remain in place until September 30, 2015 on public lands within 1/4 mile of the river's edge in the following locations:

The mainstem John Day River from Tumwater Falls (River Mile 1 0) upstream to Kimberly (River Mile 185);
The North Fork John Day River, from the confluence with the mainstem at Kimberly (River Mile 0) upstream to the Umatilla National Forest boundary (River Mile 62);
The South Fork John Day River from Smokey Creek (River Mile 6) upstream to Malheur National Forest boundary (River Mile 47).


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cove Fire Evening Upate

Cove Fire:  Firefighters work together to stop spread; evacuees allowed to return

Approximately forty campers from the E Loop of Cove Palisades State Park Campground and sixty residents from a nearby subdivision were evacuated earlier today as fire pushed by strong winds quickly burned through sagebrush, juniper and grass.  Local farmers spotted the fire around 10:30 am and took action to suppress it until fire personnel arrived.  Firefighters from Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests joined firefighters from Jefferson County Rural Fire Department #1 to check the spread of the fire.  Emergency personnel from Oregon State Police and Warm Springs Police Department assisted Sheriff Jim Adkins and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in notifying residents and campers to evacuate the area.  The evacuation order has been lifted and evacuees have returned to their homes and camps.  Two vacant homes and several outbuildings were destroyed by the fire, but no injuries to the public or emergency personnel were reported.  Investigators from Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Forestry determined the cause to be bbq briquettes which were improperly disposed of.  Fuel conditions throughout central Oregon remain extreme; fire managers urge Oregonians to be vigilant about prevention and limit the risk of starting a wildfire by continuing to practice fire safety awareness.  The public is also reminded that campfires are banned on Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Prineville BLM, Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands, and Oregon State Parks.

While firefighting resources are stretched during these extreme conditions state, federal and county resources worked together to stop the fire at approximately 200 acres.  Unified Command was established to manage the 11 engines, 1 water tender, 2 crews, 2 heavy air tankers with a lead plane, a heli-tanker and air attack to catch the fire and provide structure protection for the evacuated area.  Additional overhead personnel worked to direct resources during this challenging fire.  Firefighters will continue to work this evening to mop-up hot spots and keep the fire inside containment lines.  Tomorrow crews from Dear Ridge Correctional Institution will join engines to continue mop-up.  The fire burned in a mix of steep terrain near Cove Palisades State Park, and more gentle ground near the residential area.  While winds have moderated, firefighters continue to watch for any sparks which could quickly take off in the light fuels outside the fire lines.


Central Oregon Firefighters Respond to New Wildfire

A new wildfire (Incident #568) was reported south of Cove Palisades State Park, two miles northwest of Culver. The Cove Fire has grown quickly to 200 acres, and has burned two homes, and several outbuildings. The fire is burning in sagebrush, grass and juniper. The cause is human, and remains under investigation, although the fire started in the campground at Cove Palisades. Oregon State Police will be providing a fire investigator to determine the specific cause.

The fire is being jointly managed by Oregon Department of Forestry and Jefferson County, with additional assistance from Prineville BLM and Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest. Resources responding include 10 engines, 2 airtankers, 2 helicopters (including one loaned from Warm Springs), 2 handcrews and a water tender. In addition, Jefferson County Rural Fire District #1 and neighboring counties have provided structure engines to protect homes. The Jefferson County Sheriff Department has evacuated about 60 people in a small subdivision west of Culver. Red Cross is providing assistance as needed at Culver High School.

Fire fighters are making progress on the fire; however, there is no containment at this time. Firefighters are challenged by steep slopes out of the park, dry conditions, and light flashy fuels. This area received little or no rain today, and winds remain a main factor in fire spread.

This fire indicates that fire conditions in Central Oregon remain extreme. Even in areas that received rain from the storm that passed through the area remain dry. With hunting season beginning, and many people still out camping, fire officials want to remind everyone that campfires are prohibited on lands protected by the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Prineville BLM, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Oregon State Parks.




Saturday, August 15, 2015


With dry conditions expected to continue in Central Oregon and fire suppression resources limited due to numerous wildfires in Oregon and Washington, the Prineville District Bureau of Land Management, the Deschutes National Forest and the Ochoco National Forest, including the Crooked River National Grassland, are implementing a total campfire restriction. Effective 12:01 a.m. August 18, 2015 (Tuesday), all open fires, including charcoal fires, will be prohibited on all lands administered by the Deschutes National Forest, the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland, and the Prineville District, BLM.  There are no exceptions for developed or hosted campgrounds. 

In addition to campfire restrictions, smoking remains restricted to an enclosed vehicle or building, in a designated campground, in boats on lakes and rivers, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is clear of all flammable material. Portable cooking stoves or lanterns using liquefied or bottled fuel may still be used in all areas. Officials also want to remind the public that using explosive target material, such as Tannerite, explosives, and fireworks continue to be prohibited on all federal lands.  

At this time there are no restrictions on motorized travel on BLM or FS roads in Central Oregon; however, fire officials want to remind visitors about the dangers of driving through or parking on vegetation. The hot undercarriage of a vehicle can easily ignite, not only burning the vehicle but also spreading to nearby vegetation. At this time, visitors are asked to avoid driving on two-track roads with vegetation down the center, and to park in areas clear of vegetation. Make sure vehicles carry a container of water or a fire extinguisher. 

Before putting public use restrictions in place officials carefully consider the current fire situation, fuel moisture and predicted weather before making the decision to implement fire restrictions. Every year lightning-caused fires place a heavy demand on our firefighting resources, and put our wildlands, our firefighters, and our communities at risk. Fires caused through carelessness or negligence only increase the threat to life and livelihood, and place an even greater burden on already busy firefighters.  Every fire that’s prevented protects our communities and helps our firefighters remain available, rested, and safe.