ODF declares end to Central Oregon fire season

Nearly 200 lightning-, human-caused fires on state-protected lands

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 5:26 PM PDT October 1, 2013 
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BEND, Ore. -

The state forester has announced that fire season ended on forest and range lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in the Central Oregon Forest Protection District, as of noon Monday.

The Central Oregon District spans 2.2 million acres in 10 Oregon counties, from Hood River to Burns and La Pine to Long Creek. 

Woody debris pile and barrel burning are now allowed on ODF-protected lands within the district.

However, landowners wishing to burn debris should first contact their local ODF office. Even though fire season is no longer in effect, permits may be required,  depending on the type of burning operation and its location.

Some cities do not allow open burning and many rural fire protection districts require a burning permit. Landowners are encouraged to contact their local structural fire service provider to obtain any necessary permits before burning.

Information about fire season restrictions is available online at http://www.oregon.gov/odf/centraloregon/ and at Central Oregon District unit offices.

Fire season in the district began on June 14, and lightning was the major story all season long.

The 123 lightning-caused fires in the district this season were a 66 percent increase over the most recent ten-year average.  These fires burned about 21,000 acres, significantly above the 10-year average of about 5,000 acres.

Human-caused fires were much closer to historical trends, with 63 wildfires in 2013 compared to a ten-year average of 57.

Total acres burned by human-caused fires were approximately 1,100 acres, which was higher than the 10-year average of approximately 750 acres.

Central Oregon District Forester George Ponte said wishes to thank landowners, operators, and the general public for their assistance and cooperation in minimizing the number of human-caused wildfires during a difficult fire season.

Now that the wildfires have subsided, some forest landowners still have burning on their minds -- controlled burning, that is.

Prescribed fire in the fall removes downed woody material, which reduces wildfire danger when the summer heat comes on. It also prepares a harvested site for replanting by releasing nutrients and removing vegetation that would otherwise compete with the young trees.

To minimize smoke intrusions into populated areas, Oregon Department of Forestry meteorologists daily monitor weather conditions, and issue forecasts and burning instructions throughout the fall prescribed burning season.

To prevent excessive smoke caused by too many burns at one time, they coordinate hundreds of burning requests from private and public forest landowners.

In contrast to prescribed burns, which take place in fall and spring, large wildfires typically occur in summer when weather conditions often trap smoke in populated valleys for an extended period.

Since 1972, the Oregon Department of Forestry has regulated forestland burning in the state under the Oregon Smoke Management Plan.

Though smoke intrusions into populated areas occasionally occur due to unexpected changes in weather and wind conditions, ODF's oversight of prescribed burning minimizes such occurrences.

More information on prescribed forest burning can be found online, at www.oregon.gov/odf