Oregon Department of Forestry, Tillamook Forest, Wildfire

Keep Oregon Green launches billboard contest, fire season draws near, and more forestry news

Image courtesy ODF

Those with artistic skill and a vision for “keeping Oregon free of wildfire” can enter a billboard poster art contest launched June 1 by Keep Oregon Green in honor of their 80th anniversary. 

“We are excited to celebrate our important milestone by offering this fun opportunity to all Oregon residents. As over 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are human-caused, the power of prevention is 100% our shared responsibility,” said Kristin Babbs, president of the Keep Oregon Green Association in a press release. “The purpose of the poster contest is to involve the public in helping reduce the number of carless wildfires we see each year and remind everyone how critical it is to prevent them.”

The all-ages contest is open now, with a deadline of 5 p.m. on August 9, the official day the original 1944 Smokey Bear fire prevention campaign was authorized, and the character’s fictional birthday. 

Artwork submitted to the contest will be judged in the fall of 2021 in three age divisions, grades 1-5, grades 6 to 12, and a third division for adults ages 18 and older. 

First-place winners will have their artwork displayed on billboards across the state; first, second, and third-place winners will receive cash prizes ranging from $150 to $250. 

A plethora of submission requirements and guidelines for the contest can be found on Keep Oregon Green’s website

The mission of the organization, according to Keep Oregon Green, is below.

For 80 years the Keep Oregon Green Association has been educating the public on how to prevent wildfires. Beginning its efforts in April of 1941, after a public outcry over the human-caused Tillamook Burns, roughly 250 Oregon leaders came together to form Keep Oregon Green (KOG). KOG’s mission is to promote healthy landscapes and safe communities by educating the public of everyone’s shared responsibility to prevent human-caused wildfires.

Wildfire season in NW Oregon draws near

No decision on the exact timing of the official start to fire season in the local Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands has been made, but fire season could potentially begin on June 15, according to ODF Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata. The date depends on weather, and with damp skies in the forecast, the season will likely start on the front end of the next dry, warm trend in the forecast.

“We are completing the hiring of our seasonal fire crews and beginning their training. Full time staff are completing their pack tests and fire refreshers. Our ODF fire teams have begun their on-call rotation,” Cafferata said in a June 4 email. 

The most recent ODF district to declare the official start to fire season is Oregon’s Northeast District, where fire season will start Wednesday, June 9. 

Santiam Wildfire Restoration Fund established to aid in recovery efforts

The Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust launched the State Forests Wildfire Restoration Fund/Santiam in late April to provide a channel for individuals to donate to recovery efforts in the Santiam State Forest, severely damaged in the 2020 Labor Day fires. 

Because the Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust is a nonprofit, contributions to the fund are tax deductible. 

“We have heard from many people who lament the loss and ask how they can help with recovery on the Santiam,” said the Trust’s Executive Director Shawn Morford. “This fund enables individuals to contribute and know that they are part of bringing back the things they love about the state forest in the mid-Willamette Valley’s back yard.”

Funds raised will go to support the repair and replacement of trails, horse camps, signage and trail bridges, and replanting and seeding efforts. 

Funds will also be used in education efforts to inform the public about the impacts of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires. 

According to the Trust, nearly half of the Santiam State Forest was involved in last year’s fires, torching trails, campgrounds, backroads, and the surrounding forests and wildlife habitat devastated. 

Donations can be made at www.tillamooktrust.org.

As of May 25, the fund had received $420.91 in donations, according to an ODF spokesperson. 

Morford is expected to give an update on the Trust’s state forest recovery fund around 3:15 p.m. during the virtual Oregon Board of Forestry meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 9. To view the meeting, navigate to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Youtube channel

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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