USFS showcases new headquarters


Last updated 4/16/2024 at 2:07pm

Photo by Sue Stafford

U.S. Forest Service Sisters District Ranger Ian Reid led a tour of the site of a new headquarters facility.

If all goes according to schedule, the new 13,342 square foot headquarters building for the Sisters Ranger District will open to the public in January 2025. This according to Ian Reid, Sisters District Ranger, as he led a tour of the 12-acre construction site prior to the District annual open house last week.

The new warehouse, which has three engine bays, is where the annual meeting was held. It has an area for working on equipment, a storage room for field gear, and a "ready room" providing gym space for firefighters to stay in shape.

The original U.S. Forest Service (USFS) parcel was comprised of 80 acres which were divided into four parcels, three of which were sold to fund the building of the new $9.6 million headquarters building which will sit on the remaining 12 acres. When the new building is complete, it will allow for 100+ employees to be housed under one roof. There will be a conference room available for use by the community free of charge after hours and will seat 100 people. The new building will be serviced by City water and sewer and utility lines will all be buried underground. With a warehouse and associated site improvements, the total cost is expected to be under $15 million.

The remaining bunk houses will provide housing for fire operations. One was used last winter as a practice burn for the Sisters Camp Sherman Fire District. The two full-hookup trailer pads that were installed for temporary staff office space will be retained for use by summer personnel.

Last week, Knife River poured 230 yards of concrete for the pad on which the headquarters will be constructed. The building will be built using fire-treated lumber and a composite roof. The landscaping surrounding the building will demonstrate the use of defensible space.

The current headquarters was built in 1962 and has been altered and added to over the years. It no longer meets City building codes and there have been fire issues with the HVAC system. Once the new building is completed, the old one will be demolished to provide additional parking space.

The annual meeting showcased the District's accomplishments in 2023 and outlined plans for 2024 programs and projects. There was also a 2024 fire briefing, a time for questions from the audience, and the opportunity to discuss programs with staff.

Community partners had tables set up with information on their programs including Discover Your Forest, Community Leadership Initiative, and Wildlife Passage Project.

District Ranger Reid gave a rundown of 2023 accomplishments including the Heritage Tree program, the Indian Ford Watershed Restoration Action Plan, removal of noxious weeds on 3,400 acres, and reconstruction of FS Road 16 to Three Creek Lake. The piping of the Plainview irrigation ditch removed the last human barriers on Whychus Creek.

Forty acres of lower Black Butte swamp were re-wetted with the construction of 26 beaver dam analogs. Work on the upper swamp will be next. There were successful prescribed fire seasons with 650 acres treated in the spring and fall with under burning, 1,100 acres of pile burning in winter, and 5,200 acres were mowed.

Education programs included the Youth Conservation Corps and the Sisters Aquatic Field Day. She Jumps engaged 30 girls aged 8-14 in activities to encourage them to consider future careers with the Forest Service.

Programs slated for 2024 include continued engagement with people living in the forest due to experiencing houselessness to connect them to services and keep the forest clean. Trees along 3.5 miles of North Pine Street that are within 10-feet of the CEC powerline will be removed to meet the National Electric Safety Code to reduce fire hazard from downed lines.

In the Black Butte Ranch wildland urban interface (WUI), work will be undertaken to reduce fire hazards, using understory mowing, plantation and restoration thinning, and commercial tree harvest where appropriate. Restoration work at Cougar Rock to maintain and restore resiliency and forest health will reduce fuel loads, treating areas that border communities.

The Green Ridge Landscape Restoration Project covers 25,000 acres where there are dense forest conditions and tree species competition which increase the chances of disease and wildfire. Dwarf mistletoe in the area has increased and is infecting young trees. The area provides important wildlife habitat. Long range planning is needed to build forest resiliency. Forest treatment will move the landscape toward natural forest conditions which will increase resilience to large scale wildfires like the Eyerly Fire (2003) and Green Ridge Fire (2020) that burned the area.

To receive text alerts regarding wildfires and prescribed burns, text COFIRE to 888-777.

Editor’s note: This story was edited to correct cost figures and the amount of concrete poured.


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