May is Wildfire Awareness Month – What You Can Do to Prepare!

Salem, OR - In recognition of Wildfire Awareness Month, fire management officials are encouraging people to take action to help prevent wildfires, and lessen the potential impacts of what could be an active fire season.

The need for vigilance in preventing wildfires remains high. Several human-caused fires occurred in Oregon in late March during sustained dry, gusty easterly wind events. Outlooks through the spring and summer indicate warmer and drier than average to average conditions for the region, particularly west of the Cascades. The National Interagency Fire Center expects the potential for large fires in northwest Oregon to be above normal through July.

Agencies are busy with preparations for fire season. Hundreds of firefighters are being hired across Oregon to suppress wildfires here and in other parts of the country. These firefighters are currently completing the training needed to do their work effectively and safely.

The number one consideration with all wildfire management decisions is firefighter and public safety.

“The actions that visitors to public lands and homeowners take now to help prevent and prepare for wildfires ultimately creates safer conditions for firefighters to work in,” said Ed Hiatt, Fire Management Officer for the BLM Northwest Oregon District and Willamette and Siuslaw National Forests. “It really takes everyone working together to manage and lessen the impacts of wildfire,” said Hiatt.

One of the best ways visitors can prevent human caused fires on public lands is by putting out their campfires; a fully extinguished campfire is cool to the touch. It’s also important to know what campfire restrictions may be in effect. Some areas, such as Wilderness Areas, may require a camp stove.

Fire prevention and pre-season preparations on private lands are important too. Residents are encouraged to be proactive, and take advantage of the resources available to them to help make their homes and neighborhoods more fire-ready and fire-adapted. Actions include clearing out dead or fire-prone vegetation from around your home and removing leaves from roofs and gutters.

These kinds of preparations support year-round efforts by agencies to reduce hazardous fuels and create healthier, more resilient forests. Two examples include an ongoing fuels reduction project near the towns of Oakridge and Westfir, led by the Willamette National Forest with various partners, and a Community Assistance Grant enabling the City of Eugene and BLM to reduce hazardous fuels in the West Eugene Wetlands and along ridgeline, natural areas in south Eugene.

This is especially important given that in the last decade, wildfires in the U.S. have burned more acreage than the State of Oregon, with mega fires (greater than 100,000 acres in size) becoming more frequent. A short video featuring Paul Hessburg Research Ecologist with the US Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, and a perspective on how we can better manage our forests is available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_hessburg_why_wildfires_have_gotten_worse_and_what_we_can_do_about_it.  

 

Tips for making your home safer from wildfire:  http://keeporegongreen.com/ and  http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness.aspx

Fire info for the Pacific Northwest:  http://www.nwccweb.us/information/fire_info.aspx

Fire info for the Willamette National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/willamette/fire  

Fire info for the Siuslaw National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/siuslaw/fire

Prescribed burning info in the Willamette Valley:  https://www.facebook.com/WillametteValleyPrescribedFire





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/willamette/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD622967