Local News for Friday, September 30th.

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Forest Service uses fire to control Scotch Broom


The weather conditions were perfect yesterday morning, allowing the U.S. Forest Service to burn about ten acres along South Jetty Road.  Aaron Schneider is the Assistant Fire Manager for the Central Coast District of the Siuslaw National Forest.

Aaron Schneider – “Our primary concern was keeping it with an east wind component so we don’t smoke out the Florence and some of the surrounding communities around here.”

There were several reasons for the burn, one was to reduce fuel that would contribute to fire spread, but also for aesthetic values.

Aaron Schneider – “Vegetation management, trying to keep the encroachment of Scotch and Portuguese broom down to a minimum keeping the beach grasses growing.”

Schneider says yesterday’s exercise also provided valuable experience for firefighters.  Forest Service crews were able to meet training requirements, and others were invited to join in.

Aaron Schneider – “We try and bring in our cooperators as much as possible to help them out. We had Yachats Rural Fire Department here, we had Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue here.”

Schneider said they had hoped to burn as much as 30 acres yesterday but the wind began shifting.  He said if conditions are right, they may be able to burn the rest sometime in October.

Yesterday’s controlled burn along South Jetty Road was a tightly controlled environment with plenty of resources standing by to contain the ten acres that went up in flames.  But officials say, despite last week’s rain fire danger is still high.  Open burning outside Florence City Limits was set to begin tomorrow but that’s been delayed until next week in anticipation of rain that is forecast to move into the area. Siuslaw Valley Fire Marshall Sean Barrett says until we get a “season ending” rain event outdoor burning will remain off-limits.

Something else that will be off limits will be wild Coho salmon Douglas County.  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries managers say the initial quota of 13-hundred wild Coho in a special season on the Umpqua River is expected to be met today, prompting them to close the season.  Umpqua District fish biologist Laura Jackson said it’s been a popular fishery with 600 Coho caught in the first four days.  The move does not affect Chinook, hatchery steelhead or hatchery silvers on the Umpqua, nor does it effect the Siuslaw.

A record one-million-24-thousand emergency food boxes were distributed in Oregon in the year that ended June 30th.  According to Rachel Bristol it’s the first time the one-million mark has ever been reached in a 12-month period.  The Oregon Food Bank CEO says there were able to meet the high demand because of an increase in commodities provided by federal stimulus money… but that is going away.

Rachel Bristol – “There’s no signs that food prices are going down and all signs are that we’ll see at least a 30-percent reduction in USDA Commodities. So, I think it’s going to be a real challenge to repeat last year’s effort.”

Bristol says the Oregon Food Bank will have to raise an additional $2-million to hold steady on its current food distribution.  About 260-thousand people a month get meals from emergency food boxes distributed statewide.  (thanks to Oregon News Service and Chris Thomas)