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Timberland Owners Close Access to Private Lands for Fire Season

A number of private timberland owners and managers in Western Oregon have agreed to close their land to public access starting on Monday, May 18.

Due to drought conditions, and above-average temperatures, agencies are predicting a bad fire season in Oregon. Oregon has already experienced three times as many fires as normal this year, and Oregon Department of Forestry’s SW Oregon District already started their fire season on May 1st, which was the earliest start since 1968. It is anticipated that other fire districts will declare the official start of their respective fire seasons early as well.

State parks and all national forests in Oregon have closed recreation sites including trails, campgrounds, day-use areas and boat launches due to the current coronavirus pandemic. Federal, state and local officials are urging people to “do the right thing” by staying home, but as millions of acres of public lands in Oregon have been closed to recreation, the public’s use of private lands has increased dramatically.

Whereas public lands often have infrastructure to help keep people safe like trails for people to hike on, or fire rings in campgrounds to contain campfires, private timberlands do not have the infrastructure to handle the surge in public visits safely.

Since about 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people, the spike in public visits to private land has the potential to be dangerous for both the public visitors as well as the timberlands.

To compound the issue, wildland firefighting will be less efficient with social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions.

Todd Payne, CEO of Seneca, said “It’s not only dry and shaping up to be a bad fire season, but because of COVID-19, fire fighters and community members face even greater harm.”

With a combined timberland acreage of around 600,000 acres, Seneca, Lone Rock Resources, Giustina Resources, Campbell Global, and Giustina Land & Timber Company will close public access to their lands in Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Linn, and Polk counties on Monday, May 18, 2020.

“It is an unusual situation driven by conditions beyond our control, but we are looking at every opportunity to limit danger to the public, firefighters, and the forests.” Said Brennan Garrelts with Lone Rock Resources.

Maps and Links Below:

Low Snowpack Levels

Source – SNOTEL report from the National Water and Climate Center

Above Average Temperatures and Below Average Rainfall Projected for June, July and August

Source – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Projected

Source – National Interagency Fire Center and Predictive Services https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/outlooks.htm

Reference Links

Wildfire smoke worsens coronavirus https://theconversation.com/wildfire-smoke-worsens-coronavirus-risk-putting-firefighters-in-extra-danger-136016

Oregon lawmakers prepare for big wildfire season https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-wildfire-funding-increase-2020-season/

Wildfire season started in Southwest Oregon https://www.capitalpress.com/state/oregon/wildfire-season-begins-amid-heat-drought-in-sw-oregon/article_9dbfeeac-8bc6-11ea-b90f-1f2bed3d6a62.html

Wildland Fire Camps Need Dramatic Change Amid COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.kpcw.org/post/wildland-fire-camps-need-dramatic-change-amid-covid-19-pandemic

Oregon reports three times as many fires than normal in 2020 https://www.kdrv.com/content/news/Oregon-reports-almost-three-times-as-many-fires-than-normal-so-far-in-2020-570018191.html

Keep Oregon Green’s human-caused fire map of https://keeporegongreen.org/fire-map/

About Seneca

Seneca is headquartered in Eugene and has timberlands in Benton, Linn, Lane, Douglas, Coos and Josephine counties. Contact: Casey Roscoe at (541) 972 – 2973 or croscoe@senecasawmill.com.

About Lone Rock Resources

Lone Rock Resources is headquartered in Roseburg and has timberlands in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine and Lane counties. Contact: Brennan Garrelts at (541) 673-0141 or contact@lrtco.com .

About Giustina Resources

Giustina Resources is headquartered in Eugene and has timberlands in Benton, Douglas, Lane, Lincoln and Linn counties. Contact: (541) 485-1500 or info@giustina.com .

About Campbell Global

Campbell Global is headquartered in Portland and has timberlands in Lane, Linn, Douglas, Benton, Polk, Coos, Curry and Lincoln counties. Contact: Jim Hunt at (541) 359-5410 or jahunt@campbellglobal.com .

About Giustina Land & Timber Company

Giustina Land & Timber Company is headquartered in Eugene and has timberlands in Linn, Lane, Douglas, Tillamook and Clatsop counties. Contact: (541) 345-2301.

Source: Seneca Sawmill Company