The Rangers Corner Fall 2022
Last updated 10/12/2022 at Noon
It’s autumn yet summer clings on.
But the shortening days allow reflection on our busiest time of year.
By all accounts, 2022 was another successful season.
Favorable weather was a contributing factor in a relatively mellow local fire season.
Equally important was a safe, yet aggressive, initial attack that kept most wildfires less than one acre.
The exception on the Sisters Ranger District was the 280-acre Fly Creek fire in early August, when over 3,000 lightning strikes pummeled Oregon in a 24-hour period.
Firefighters from many different organizations worked together to keep the Fly Creek fire from impacting the many homes and private properties nearby, in addition to natural and cultural resources.
This type of cooperation across jurisdictional lines helped recently select Central Oregon as one of 10 national focal landscapes to pilot the 10-year wildfire crisis strategy.
The Deschutes National Forest will receive over $41 million in the next three years to treat 50,000 acres of hazardous fuels in Central Oregon.
To achieve this objective, we will need all tools in the land management toolbox, including commercial and non-commercial thinning, mowing, and mastication, and prescribed burning.
Recently, Forest Service Chief Randy Moore lifted the pause on prescribed burning while a national review was conducted.
Locally, that means we will soon be commencing our fall burning program adjacent to Sisters and Camp Sherman.
And we are inching ever closer to publishing a final decision to treat about 20,000 acres of overstocked forests on Green Ridge, in addition to working on the next planning area called Cougar Rock just north of Sisters.
With the cooler temperatures and greater humidity recovery, we dropped industrial fire precaution levels to Level 1, which means firewood cutting can occur all day. Likewise, we have dropped campfire public use restrictions and campfires are now allowed in all areas of the Sisters Ranger District unless expressly prohibited by forest order.
Shifting from fire to water, the Lower Black Butte Swamp restoration project was another successful effort this past field season, using old-fashioned grit and determination to mimic natural processes and help recharge a historic wet meadow system by building beaver dam analogues in partnership with Heart of Oregon Corps.
Fall also means many of our developed campgrounds are closing. While we had some staffing challenges at Three Creek Lake this summer, we tried to make the best out of a difficult situation by offering free, first- come first-served camping, and still providing basic services. We also used community feedback received around the Central Cascades Wilderness permit system to improve that experience this summer in its second season of implementation. These improvements allowed for more spontaneity, especially for day trips, and hopefully reduced the number of permit no-shows.
On the evening of October 20, we will be joining other local organizations and presenters in a community forum on houselessness in Sisters Country. It is an important and complex topic, and we would welcome your presence, thoughts, and ideas on potential solutions around this difficult issue.
We welcome several new employees to the Sisters Ranger District. Andrew Myhra takes the helm as fire management officer/Cascade division chief. And we are lucky to hire local resident Jamie Sheahan Alonso as our new district hydrologist. Skyler Ogden comes to us off the Umpqua National Forest filling our developed recreation specialist vacancy, while Luke Lassell was hired as our presale crew leader. Heather Evans will also join us to provide additional capacity in archeology.
Like many, I was saddened to hear of the recent death of Jim Anderson, who was a friend to the Forest Service. When we arrived in Sisters five years ago, Jim was one of the first folks to stop by and say hello. Jim was a friend of Reub Long, co-author of The Oregon Desert (1971). Reub writes, “If heaven hasn’t any old rusty patched-up wire fences, I’ll never feel at home there”. Here’s to rusty fences, Jim.