A return to normal, U.S. Forest Service has mild 2019 fire season

MEDFORD, Ore.– Members of the U.S. Forest Service – Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest say 2019’s summer was one of it’s most mild fire seasons in several years.

While crews were at the ready in case a major fire would break-out, it never reached that point. According to a Chamise Kramer, a spokesperson for USFS, the fire season of 2019 was nothing like recent years and this should be considered what a typical southern Oregon summer should look like.

A collective sigh of relief. That’s the phrase forest agencies have been using to describe the end to the 2019 fire season. A season that most would call normal.

“This is much more typical of what most of us can recall fire season being like in southwest Oregon,” said Kramer.

For the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the season went very well. While the last two years saw disastrous fires across the region from lightning, this year was comparatively mild.

“A lot of those storms just didn’t deliver quite the punch that they have in years past,” said Kramer.

The difference between this year’s fire season and the 2018 fire season is significant. This year USFS says there were 40 lightning starts and 362 acres affected on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest lands. Last year, there were 180 lightning starts and over 200,000 acres affected.

“This year is definitely more representative of what we think of when we think of normal fire season,” said Kramer.

The end of fire season will be declared on Tuesday by Oregon Department of Forestry. The forest service says this will give them the chance to start ramping up important fuels reduction and thinning work.

“That makes it a little easier for us to move forward and make concrete decisions about where we will be starting work and when,” said Kramer. “That work can continue through winter and spring.”

The hope – to make significant progress in keeping the forests prepared for whatever may come next year. The forest service says that last year it held prescribed burns over nearly 9,000 acres on Rogue River-Siskiyou lands.

It expects to reach that number, or possibly exceed it, this year.

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