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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: 21010

Reported Deaths: 355
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah484994
Washington304725
Marion288370
Umatilla225128
Clackamas152340
Malheur76814
Deschutes59610
Lane5793
Jackson4612
Yamhill45013
Lincoln4149
Union3942
Jefferson3554
Morrow3543
Polk31312
Linn27710
Klamath2012
Wasco1893
Hood River1840
Benton1696
Douglas1501
Josephine1142
Columbia940
Coos910
Clatsop850
Crook471
Baker380
Tillamook340
Lake320
Wallowa191
Sherman160
Curry150
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Confirmed Cases: 554388

Reported Deaths: 10307
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Los Angeles2067784967
Riverside40452799
Orange39076720
San Bernardino35452502
San Diego31779586
Kern22626171
Fresno17031171
Alameda13213208
San Joaquin12303211
Santa Clara11475203
Sacramento10795161
Tulare10475196
Imperial9693244
Stanislaus9566161
Contra Costa9022138
Ventura814689
San Francisco743267
Santa Barbara670469
San Mateo6110120
Marin528779
Monterey521235
Merced501264
Kings445356
Solano402940
Sonoma343147
Madera230239
Placer218620
San Luis Obispo209315
Yolo169043
Santa Cruz12386
Butte10958
Napa104610
Sutter9217
El Dorado7291
San Benito7094
Lassen6380
Yuba5884
Shasta41810
Mendocino38010
Colusa3624
Glenn3603
Nevada3221
Humboldt2824
Tehama2761
Lake2202
Amador1642
Mono1531
Tuolumne1522
Calaveras1471
Del Norte990
Siskiyou930
Inyo643
Mariposa602
Plumas340
Modoc50
Trinity50
Sierra30
Alpine20
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