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home : current news : current news July 17, 2018

10/3/2017 12:06:00 PM
Rehab planning underway for Milli Fire area

The Milli Fire that scorched a 24,079-acre area west and southwest of Sisters and inundated Sisters Country with smoke for weeks is fully contained. It left behind a wounded landscape. Now comes time for the landscape to heal.

The Forest Service reports that a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team has reviewed the fire area and made several recommendations for rehabilitation and recovery of the fire area. Some of that area burned at high intensity; some experienced low or moderate-intensity fire; and some portions of the fire area didn't burn at all.

The BAER Team on the Milli Fire was comprised of Forest Service employees with a range of resource specialties who work together to assess time-critical rehabilitation or recovery activities to be completed within a fire area. According to the Forest Service, overall objectives for BAER Teams include:

• Determine whether imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands exist and take immediate actions, as appropriate, to manage the unacceptable risks.

• If emergency conditions are identified, mitigate significant threats to health, safety, human life, property and values-at-risk.

• Prescribe emergency response actions to stabilize and prevent unacceptable degradation to natural and cultural resources, to minimize threats to life or property resulting from the effects of a fire, or to repair/replace/construct physical improvements necessary to prevent degradation of land or resources.

• Implement emergency response actions to help stabilize soil; control water, sediment and debris movement and potentially reduce threats to the BAER values identified above when an analysis shows that planned actions are likely to reduce risks substantially within the first year following containment of the fire.

• Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of emergency treatments that were applied on National Forest System lands.

The BAER Team for the Milli Fire used field surveys and science-based models to evaluate and assess the burned area. The BAER Team's focus was on minimizing potential post-fire effects to life, property, and critical natural or cultural resources. The team completed its final report for the Deschutes National Forest on September 21, and made the following recommendations:

• Invasive weed detection and treatment along several Forest Service roads and Highway 242 that were of high to moderate burn severity. It is expected that the detection will occur across 205 acres and will require 20 acres of treatment within those 205 acres.

• Storm-proofing of roads in areas with high and moderate burn severity. This will include cleaning culverts and installing additional water bars to handle short-term sediment and debris flows. This activity will occur on 3.4 miles of road.

• Installing drainage features on roads downslope or within the high and moderate burn severity areas. This work will occur on 2.2 miles of road.

• Trailhead hazard tree mitigation will continue to mitigate hazard trees adjacent to trailheads as additional tree mortality is expected from the fire in the next few months. Areas of particular concern are Scott Pass and Lava Camp Lake


• Trail stabilization that includes installing drainage, waterbars and removing snags as necessary. Primary areas of concern are the Pacific Crest, North Matthieu Lake, Millican Crater, Scott Pass, Green Lakes, Trout Creek Tie and Black Crater trails.

• Install trail and road hazard signs to inform the public about the dangers associated with recreating within the burn area.

• Temporarily closing access roads with boulders accessing four campsites within Lava Camp Lake Campground (seven sites to remain open) and the Black Crater trailhead access. These areas will be reevaluated and may be reopened when hazards are no longer a threat to public safety.

The total request for funds for Milli Fire rehabilitation and recovery work based on the BAER Team's recommendation was $131,212.

In addition to the work that will be completed under the BAER Team assessment, suppression crews and contractors are continuing repair of suppression lines associated with the Milli Fire to mitigate adverse effects to resources resulting from fire suppression activities. This includes:

• Rehabilitation and recovery of constructed suppression lines including dozer lines (11.4 miles), hand lines (1.3 miles), safety zones and helispots.

• Repair to roads and trails used as suppression lines. Roads (50.9 miles) and trails (0.75 miles) may need to be graded/reconstructed or have drainage repaired. Danger trees are being mitigated this fall along approximately 18.1 miles of open roads including 6.9 miles of Highway 242. In areas where felled danger trees are not necessary to meet resource goals and would create an unsafe accumulation of fuels or would be a roadside hazard, trees have been decked and will be sold commercially or as personal use firewood.

Over the next year the Sisters Ranger District will assess the need to complete additional resource protection or repair roads, trails, or other infrastructure in the Milli Fire area that cannot be addressed through BAER or suppression repair authorities. The District is also beginning to assess the need to conduct salvage logging projects along roads or areas affected by the fire.

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