Rogue Valley News: Thursday 4/15 – Escaped Debris Burns Have Caused A Number Of Fires In Jackson And Josephine Counties, Projects In Southern Oregon To Help Reduce Wildfire Risk

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Sunny, with a high near 74. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Friday- Sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday- Sunny, with a high near 82. Light east wind.
Sunday- Sunny, with a high near 85.
Monday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

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Oregon reports 816 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 3 new deaths

There are three new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,449. The Oregon Health Authority reported 816 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 172,206.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (14), Benton (25), Clackamas (97), Clatsop (2), Columbia (13), Coos (4), Crook (2), Curry (3), Deschutes (84), Douglas (8), Grant (32), Harney (1), Hood River (8), Jackson (50), Jefferson (3), Josephine (19), Klamath (27), Lane (49), Lincoln (6), Linn (23), Malheur (2), Marion (83), Morrow (1), Multnomah (126), Polk (18), Sherman (1), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (9), Union (2), Wasco (8), Washington (86) and Yamhill (9).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 39,326 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 24,097 doses were administered on April 13 and 15,229 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 13.

The 7-day running average is now 38,392 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,215,804 doses of Pfizer, 1,052,206 doses of Moderna and 86,624 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 945, 453 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,492,658 who have had at least one dose.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

To date,1,499,355 doses of Pfizer,1,289,900 doses of Moderna and 215,500 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change.

OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.


Escaped Debris Burns Have Caused A Number Of Fires In Jackson And Josephine Counties

ODF, Rural Metro Fire and Grants Pass Fire Rescue have responded to two fires around Grants Pass Wednesday.

The Goldbrook Fire is now lined and mop-up is underway. The cause remains under investigation. Investigators have determined the Azalea Fire started in a chicken coop. This fire is completely contained tonight.

ODF, Rural Metro Fire, and Grants Pass Fire Rescue have responded to two fires in the last couple hours around Grants Pass. The Goldbrook Fire located two miles northeast of Grants Pass. It’s estimated to be 1.5 acres and 70% lined. The cause is under investigation. No structures are threatened.

The Azalea Fire, located on Azalea Drive two miles northwest of Grants Pass, is now 100% mopped up. Firefighters caught it at half an acre. Homes in the area were saved by crews, and no evacuations were made. The cause of this fire is also under investigation. More information will be released as it becomes available.

These two fires are in addition to the Tarter Gulch Fire, located nine miles southeast of Cave Junction.

TARTER GULCH FIRE: ODF and Illinois Valley Fire District resources are responding to a 15-20 acre fire located 9 miles southeast of Cave Junction in the Tarter Gulch area. Currently, four engines are on scene, along with a hand crew and a bulldozer. An additional two dozers and a water tender are en route. The fire is burning on a slope and wind is currently fueling it.

The fire is located in a timber harvest that was recently replanted. No homes or structures are threatened, and no evacuations are in place. The cause is under investigation. More information will be released as it becomes available.

ESCAPED DEBRIS BURNS: Weather conditions are creating an increased risk for fires to spread easily. These factors include temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s, windy conditions and a couple weeks without rain. This photo is from an escaped debris burn on the 1200-block of Kincaid road in Williams 4/8.

Grants Pass unit firefighters were able to stop it at half an acre alongside our partners at Applegate Valley Fire District.

Escaped debris burns have caused a number of grassfires in Jackson and Josephine counties in the past two weeks. ODF firefighters have responded to nine out-of-control burns as the primary agency or as mutual aid to our structure partners in the last seven days.

Help us prevent these fires!

Consider the following before starting a debris burn:

  • Only burn on a burn day. Call your county’s burn line to ensure you’re not breaking the law and starting an illegal burn pile.
  • Check the weather. If it’s sunny and windy, consider putting off your debris burn until the next cloudy or rainy day- even if it’s a schedule burn day.
  • Make sure you have any needed permits from your local fire department or district, and know the regulations associated with it.
  • Keep a water source nearby, such as a charged hose.
  • Never leave your burn pile unattended.
  • When you’re finished, extinguish your burn pile with water and dirt until you can’t feel any heat in the area. Check for heat with the back of your hand.
  • Monitor your prior debris burns. Extinguished piles can reignite months later in warm, windy conditions like the ones we’re seeing now. An escaped burn pile can land you a citation, and potentially the responsibility of paying for the entire cost of putting the fire out. Between the equipment, firefighters and resources, that cost adds up quickly.

No one thinks their debris burn will be the one that starts a fire. Please be aware of the current risks and consider holding off on your debris burning until the next rain. It could mean one less wildfire in our valley. #fireseason2021

Oregon Department Of Forestry Will Spend $1.8 Million For Projects In Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, and Curry Counties To Reduce Wildfire Risk

Fuels reduction projects like this in the Fremont-Winema National Forest reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfires. ODF is helping fund 37 such projects in southern Oregon and around the state this spring..

The Oregon Department of Forestry is putting to work in southwest and south-central Oregon a large share of $5 million it was granted in January by the Oregon Legislative Emergency Board (E-Board) for reducing wildfire risk across the state. Of 37 total projects statewide, the agency has lined up seven projects in Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties and seven in Klamath and Lake counties totaling $1.8 million. The projects rely on partnerships to improve community resilience to wildfire and restore and maintain healthy, resilient forests.

‘The funds from the Emergency Board provide the state with an incredible opportunity to bring together public and private groups to complete some critical fuels mitigation work in advance of the 2021 fire season,” said Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty. “This is shared stewardship in action. When we work together, we can treat more acres across ownership boundaries and have a greater impact on fire resiliency in communities and forests throughout the state.”

Partners in the department’s efforts include forest collaboratives, watershed councils, the Northwest Youth Corps, OSU, private landowners, counties, federal agencies, and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.  

After receiving the funds in January, ODF put out a call for proposals and received 93 applications totaling over $20 million. The 37 projects were chosen from among those applications.

Some 35 projects involve direct treatments on the land. ODF and its partners will employ various fuel treatment methods ranging from ODF fuel crews, landowner cost shares and rebates and/or contracted equipment services. Among those in southern Oregon are projects to reduce highly flammable stands of gorse on the coast and treat fuels around Ashland, Gold Hill, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, Rogue River, Wimer and the Bear Creek Valley, three projects in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest, two in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and one in the Gilchrist State Forest.

ODF expects that the projects collectively will result in:

  • Over 7,000 acres being treated for fuel reduction, including use of prescribed fire
  • 1,400 hours of volunteer work
  • 750 trees felled during fuel reduction projects repurposed as logs for in-stream habitat restoration
  • 500 hours of young adult training
  • 20 miles of right-of-way fuel mitigation treatments
  • 10 miles of hiking trails repaired after being damaged by Labor Day wildfires
  • 1 post-fire effects study

In addition to funding fuel-treatment projects, ODF is directing investments to increase its organizational capacity, including equipment and full-time staff.

ODF Partnership and Planning Program Manager Jeff Burns said the funding will also allow ODF to increase its organizational capacity through equipment and adding a few full-time staff. “We’re hiring six field-based positions to address local capacity needs and two Salem administrative positions, which will support field operations. This is important given the increasing complexity of cross-boundary programs with multiple partners and funding sources.”

Burns said the field positions allow ODF to keep seasonal firefighters engaged outside of peak fire months. “That’s already paid off in central Oregon because we had trained firefighting staff doing fuels treatment work when a large wildfire was reported in late March. They were able to join the response, adding to our initial attack capability even as they reduce potential fire intensity with their fuels treatment.”

Burns added that ODF leverages significantly more federal funds than it receives in state general fundsModest and consistent investment in forest restoration has resulted in considerable federal funding entering the state through grant programs, Good Neighbor Authority agreements and conservation partnerships. — Oregon Dept. of Forestry


The Number Of Small Wildfires Has Tripled This Spring Partly Because Of Dry Conditions Across Oregon

The Oregon Department of Forestry said Tuesday the number of small wildfires has tripled this spring partly because of dry conditions across Oregon. The agency said Tuesday they’ve already doused 70 fires, almost half of which resulted from escaped backyard debris burn piles, the Statesman Journal reported. In a normal season, usually 24 fires occur by April 13. In response, the City of Salem issued a ban on all open burning within the city, including recreational fires.

The Dallas Fire Department was called to a grass fire Tuesday threatening homes in an area where a resident had been burning over a couple days, Dallas Fire Department officials said. With the high winds and dry conditions, the fire grew beyond the control of the property owner, officials said. No homes were burned and no one was injured, fire
officials said.

Fires broke out around Southern Oregon and other parts of the state. Authorities are asking people to respect burn bans that are now in effect. Check our article for more details on how you can help prevent wildfires:

Virus Deadly To Rabbits Found In Multiple Areas Of Oregon

Environmental experts are concerned about Oregon’s wild rabbit population after multiple cases of a virus that is deadly to the animals were confirmed in different parts of the state.

The latest case of the rabbit hemorrhagic disease, which was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, was in La Pine. Last month, the disease was detected nearly 200 miles away in Milwaukie, a suburb of Portland, in eight dead domestic and feral rabbits.

Following last month’s discovery, Dr. Ryan Scholz, Oregon’s state veterinarian, said the virus has taken hold in the feral rabbit population. The disease, also referred to as RHD, causes sudden death and is highly contagious
among the animals, spreading through contact with infected rabbits, meat, fur, or other materials. Birds, rodents, flies, predators, and scavengers can also spread this virus, as well as people by carrying it on their clothing, hands, and shoes.

Former Weyerhaeuser Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison 

Susan Tranberg of Eugene, Oregon, was sentenced to federal prison today for defrauding her former employer, the Weyerhaeuser Company, out of more than $4.5 million, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug. Tranberg was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, beginning as early as June 2004 and continuing to January 2019, Tranberg defrauded Weyerhaeuser out of more than $4.5 million by submitting fraudulent invoices for payment to a fake vendor she created. Tranberg had worked for Weyerhaeuser in Springfield, Oregon in various positions for more than 40 years.

A financial analysis determined that the vast majority of the money was used to fund a lavish lifestyle of expensive dinners, vacations, six-figure wedding expenses, and shopping sprees. At some point in or before June 2004, Tranberg created a fake timber contract between the company and a vendor she named after her mother, who was unaware of the scheme.

Over the next 10 years, Tranberg would use her positions in the company’s accounting and finance departments to request cashier’s checks, which she then cashed into her own bank account. During this time period, Tranberg requested and received more than $2.6 million.

South Fork Forest Camp Walk Away Back in Custody

An Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) adult in custody who walked away from a South Fork Forest Camp (SFFC) work crew is back in custody. Jedaiah Lunn walked away from a work crew near Gales Creek Campground at approximately 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office arrested Lunn on Sauvie Island at approximately 10:37 p.m., Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

An adult in custody walked away Wednesday, April 14, 2021, from South Fork Forest Camp (SFFC) in Tillamook. Jedaiah Lunn walked away from a work crew near Gales Creek Campground at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Around the same time in the same area, a carjacking occurred. Two victims were assaulted and their blue 2015 Subaru Legacy four-door sedan with license plate 799HSW was stolen. SFFC is minimum-security work camp that houses approximately 200 adults in custody who are within four years of release.

Part of SFFC’s mission is to supply a ready work force to combat forest or wild fires throughout the state. Crews provide critical support for statewide fire operations, recreation, and reforestation; as well as provide support for special projects such as sign making, metal fabrication, and tool or equipment repair. SFFC was established in 1951 and is a satellite facility to CRCI and managed jointly with the Oregon Department of Forestry. It is located approximately 28 miles east of Tillamook, just off of Highway 6 along the Wilson River in the Tillamook Forest. Oregon Dept. of Corrections –

Water Rations Effect Farmers Amid Drought

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned yesterday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes.

Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is working with congressional
delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation briefed irrigators, tribes and environmental groups early Wednesday after delaying the decision a month. The federally owned irrigation project will draw 33,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake, which farmers said was roughly 8% of what they need in such a dry year. Water deliveries will also start June 1,
two months later than usual, for the 1,400 irrigators who farm the 225,000 acres.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement that Oregon water regulators are reviewing a plan to allow irrigators to pump more than twice as much groundwater per acre for their crops as allowed last year when drought reduced water supplies to a lesser extent. U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden say they are working with
Congressman Cliff Bentz to get aid for the Klamath Basin as it faces a particularly dry year.

OHA seeks input on which Oregon beaches to monitor in 2021

OHA invites public comment on proposed beach locations through April 26

PORTLAND, Ore.—Oregon Health Authority’s Beach Monitoring Program invites public comment on a list of beaches it is proposing to monitor this summer.

The OHA Oregon Beach Monitoring Program (OBMP) works with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to pick beaches that need monitoring based on established criteria.

These criteria include pollution hazards present; previous beach monitoring data that identify water quality concerns; type and amount of beach use; and public input.

As part of a flexible sampling plan, beaches and sampling locations are routinely re-evaluated to ensure available resources best protect public health. Based on OBMP’s evaluation criteria, the following list contains the proposed beaches for 2021 monitoring season; a copy of DEQ’s beach evaluation is available upon request:

The proposed list includes some of the most frequently visited beaches in Oregon, beaches where the program has found bacteria present, or beaches for which local partners and the public have requested monitoring due to potential pollution concerns.

OHA and DEQ use available resources to monitor as many beaches as possible. However, with more than 360 miles of coastline, more than 90 beaches and just one full-time sampling technician, not all beaches can be monitored.  

OBMP will accept public comments and suggestions on the proposed 2021 beaches through April 26, 2021. Contact OBMP by email at“> or call 971-673-0400 to submit input.

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