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Forestry Department assists counties for storm emergency
January 7, 2009
Contact: Kevin Weeks (503) 945-7427
The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) on Wednesday began mobilizing to assist counties on the northwestern coast of Oregon with emergency resources as a massive winter storm began.
Forestry personnel from ODF’s Astoria District were deployed earlier this week to check the status of roads and culverts within the Clatsop State Forest for potential hazards. Staff members from ODF’s Tillamook, Astoria and Columbia City offices have been coordinating with county emergency management offices as well during the hours leading to the storm’s arrival.
On Wednesday, ODF received an official request from Clatsop County to provide emergency assistance with sandbagging Plympton Creek Road near Westport. A ten-person crew from the South Fork Forest Camp has been deployed for emergency operations. This emergency scene is in the vicinity of where an abandoned rail fill collapsed on December 11, 2007 launching a debris flow that blocked U.S. Highway 30 for several days.
The Tillamook Forest Center on Oregon Highway 6 closed Wednesday on concerns regarding the rising level of the Wilson River adjacent to the educational center.
Landowners with forest property are the first line of detection and prevention of landslides. Forest landowners are encouraged to monitor their property for signs of forest road collapses, land slumps or water pooling behind blocked culverts. If landowners feel they cannot adequately respond to a potential hazard on their land, landowners are encouraged to contact their local ODF office or their county emergency management office for assistance.
The wet climate and rugged terrain found throughout western Oregon means that many areas are prone to landslides. Landslides occur on both managed and un-managed forests, and landslides do not just occur on forestlands.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of their exposure to these potential landslide risks. Many people, especially in Oregon’s urban/rural interface areas, live in the path of potential landslides or debris flows. Additional information about the geology of Oregon’s regions is available from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI).
The Oregon Department of Forestry does administer rules that evaluate potential landslide hazards for forested land only. Geotechnical staffs with ODF are continuing to assess landslide hazards and protect public safety for areas where timber harvest may affect land, including drainage and road maintenance in forest areas. Administrative rule authority for ODF regarding landslides in forest areas is specific to shallow, rapidly-moving landslides within forestland where forest management operations occur.
The Oregon Department of Forestry is utilizing an emergency operations structure throughout the duration of the storm to quickly respond to requests for assistance, personnel and resources.