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Oregon private timberland owners close public access to lands for Fire Season

A group of private timberland owners in western and southern Oregon have agreed to close off their lands to the public next week in an effort to prevent fires.

Posted: May 11, 2020 2:02 PM
Updated: May 11, 2020 2:08 PM

EUGENE, Ore. — A coalition of timber countries are closing off their lands to the public next week in an effort to cut down on potential wildfires. The closure begins on Monday, May 18.

A joint statement from timber companies Seneca, Lone Rock Resources, Giustina Resources, Campbell Global, and Giustina Land & Timber Company cited worsening drought conditions and above-average temperatures that have led to predictions for a bad fire season in Oregon.


The 2015 Stouts Creek Fire was started by a lawn mower and burned more than 30,000 acres (photo courtesy ODF).

"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," the companies said. "It is anticipated that other fire districts will declare the official start of their respective fire seasons early as well."


RELATED: Wildfire conditions for Oregon and California may be worse, earlier than predicted


Because many public outdoor recreation sites have been closed due to coronavirus, these timber companies say that 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," the companies said.

According to statistics from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), people are responsible for 70 percent of wildfires in Oregon, often started near homes and communities. Many of those fires begin as controlled burns, but others are caused by sparks or exhaust from vehicles and escaped campfires.


RELATED: Oregon reports almost three times as many fires than normal so far in 2020


“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,” said Todd Payne, CEO of Seneca.

Together, these five companies own or operate around 600,000 acres of land between Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Linn, and Polk counties. Those lands will close to the public effective next Monday.

“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 of Lone Rock Resources.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 4335

Reported Deaths: 157
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah118161
Marion98126
Washington74718
Clackamas31711
Deschutes1270
Umatilla1213
Linn1189
Polk10012
Lane773
Yamhill707
Jackson670
Benton565
Clatsop450
Jefferson440
Klamath440
Malheur320
Coos310
Douglas270
Wasco261
Josephine241
Hood River220
Lincoln170
Columbia160
Morrow120
Curry70
Union60
Tillamook60
Crook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 117215

Reported Deaths: 4305
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Los Angeles572192448
Riverside8155342
San Diego7554269
Orange6574150
San Bernardino5501208
Alameda351597
Santa Clara2819143
San Francisco258743
Kern237639
San Mateo218884
Tulare200489
Fresno188236
Imperial179829
Santa Barbara166912
Contra Costa150637
Sacramento143958
Ventura116434
Kings11375
San Joaquin98235
Stanislaus75029
Monterey57110
Sonoma5664
Solano54622
Marin50115
Merced3017
San Luis Obispo2781
Placer2289
Santa Cruz2172
Yolo21324
Madera1143
Napa1133
Humboldt1023
El Dorado960
San Benito882
Butte511
Sutter462
Del Norte460
Nevada421
Shasta394
Mono371
Mendocino300
Yuba301
Lake260
Inyo201
Glenn170
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Amador100
Siskiyou80
Colusa70
Lassen50
Tehama51
Plumas40
Tuolumne40
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
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