Roundabout Sisters – Signs of spring
Last updated 4/25/2023 at 3:58pm
Calls to 911 reporting fires are up as more and more yard debris is being burned. Callers mistakenly think a structure or wildfire is happening, when it’s just neighbors burning off leaf and needle piles or trimmings and clippings.
Knowing this possibility, if the report of fire does not confirm an actual structure or vehicle, Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District (SCSFD) may send out a scout car before dispatching firefighting engines.
Every spring, like a well-oiled clock, scores of gardeners, ranchers, and farmers gather up Mother Nature’s “debris” and light it up. It’s a rare but not impossible day when the burn goes awry.
The Fire District cannot stress enough the need for registering your property and burn at publicfiresafety.com and, ideally, downloading the available Burns Permit app to your Android or Apple phone. You will be registering your contact information with the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, who use email and text messaging to communicate about conditions and other notices to ensure safety.
Create a burn day report for each day you plan to burn. Let the District know where and when you plan to burn, and agree to the Terms and Conditions for each burn. SCSFD staff will be able to provide valuable advice before and during your burn.
Check your mobile phone at least hourly during your outdoor burns. Staff will be monitoring conditions throughout each day and critical changes in conditions may trigger emergency updates calling for quick action on your burn.
The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District may make modifications on a day-to-day basis. If conditions become dryer or prolonged, or excessive wind surfaces, individual agencies may choose to close local burning.
Burning is never allowed within the city limits of Sisters, and this is strictly enforced. Other common-sense practices apply, such as no burning when temperatures reach 90 degrees, not very likely in spring. Fires must be extinguished by sundown. Never leave them unattended.
Keep a shovel on hand and make sure you have access to water.
Another sure sign of spring is no sign at all. The ubiquitous yellow “road closed” signs that the Forest Service puts up every December 1 came down March 31. These are the signs informing drivers of the rules in place to protect migrating wildlife.
Winter range is habitat deer and elk migrate to in order to find more favorable living conditions during the winter. Winter range is found predominantly in lower elevations of Central Oregon and is extremely important to mule deer survival.
Winter ranges usually have minimal amounts of snow cover and provide vegetation for forage, hiding cover, and protection from the weather. In Oregon, mule deer migrate, often long distances, to lower elevations to escape or minimize exposure to snow cover. Motorized vehicles (including snowmobiles and electric bicycles) are prohibited in the closure areas to protect deer and elk during the winter.
For Sisters, the affected area is almost exclusively east of FS Road 16 (Three Creek Road) and in the highly trafficked Peterson Ridge recreation areas. Some BLM lands to the east and north of Sisters are also in the restricted zone.
The Forest Service explains: “Nutritional intake is a critical component of deer biology. Deer must obtain sufficient energy, protein, and nutrients from the plants they eat to maintain body condition and successfully reproduce. Nutrition influences overall body condition, reproductive success, and survival. During the summer, deer accumulate and store body fat under their skin and around internal organs.
“This serves both as insulation and as energy reserves for the rigors of winter. Fat reserves can be upwards of 30 percent of total body mass. The natural winter diet (i.e. bitterbrush, sagebrush) is lower in nutrients and less digestible than the summer diet, requiring more energy to digest, and resulting in fewer calories. Stored fat is burned during winter to partially compensate for the lack of nutrients in the winter diet. Deer normally lose weight during the winter. Deer go into the winter with a full tank of gas (fat reserves) not knowing how long the winter will be or what issues they will need to deal with.
“Severe winters are a major factor influencing population dynamics. Severe winters can tax a deer’s ability to obtain necessary forage while draining fat reserves. This can result in reduced reproductive success and increased mortality. In addition, human-related disturbance can stress animals and cause them to expend unnecessary energy which may increase winter mortality.”
Declining deer herds in Central Oregon have been topical of late, with proposals on the table that some ranchers and farmers find onerous.