East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, June 08, 2021, Page 2, Image 2

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    NORTHWEST
East Oregonian
A2
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Wildfire season starts early in Wallowa County
By KATY NESBITT
For The Observer
ENTERPRISE — Before
the state had the opportu-
nity to declare fire season in
Northeastern Oregon, two
fires erupted late last week
in the remote canyons of
Wallowa County.
Early morning light-
ning storms Friday, June 4,
started a handful of fires,
two becoming large enough
to call in smokejumpers
and rappellers to access the
Joseph Canyon and Dry
Creek fires, burning on pri-
vate land and the Nez Perce
Tribe’s Precious Lands
Wildlife Area.
The fire reportedly
ignited on Bureau of Land
Management lands, but soon
crossed over into Washing-
ton state lands protected by
the Oregon Department of
Forestry.
Until June 6, the U.S.
Forest Service was oversee-
ing the coordination of the
Dry Creek Fire to the south-
east of Joseph Canyon.
A spring drought com-
bined with large, woody
debris registering very low
moisture and live fuels,
such as brush and shrubs,
are extremely dry, add-
ing ample fuel to the fire.
According to Matt Howard,
ODF deputy administrator,
high winds shut down air
operations on June 5 when
Andy Hayes/Wallowa‐Whitman National Forest
The Joseph Canyon Fire burns on Sunday, June 6, 2021. The
fire is burning in and around the Grande Ronde and Joseph
Creek areas of critical environmental concern on the Vale
District Bureau of Land Management and in the Nez Perce
Precious Lands Wildlife Area, which is protected by Oregon
Department of Forestry. Firefighters are working to protect
ecological, geological and cultural resources along with pri-
vate property, rangeland and timber.
the Joseph Canyon Fire
jumped Cottonwood Creek
to the east and Joseph Creek
to the west.
Adding to dry conditions
and high winds, the terrain
is some of the most difficult
in the Northwest.
“In my opinion it is in
one of the toughest spots
due to inaccessibility, steep
terrain, remoteness and rat-
tlesnakes,” he said.
Although containment
remains at 0%, fire spread
was limited to 300 acres, for
a total of 4,000 acres at the
end of June 6. The fires are
being battled mostly from
the air, with crews on the
Forecast for Pendleton Area
TODAY
WEDNESDAY
| Go to AccuWeather.com
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
ground scouting, checking
for hot spots, burnout oper-
ations and assisting pilots
with water and retardant
drops.
As of June 7, the fires
transitioned from two Type
3 overhead teams to the
Interagency Type 2 North-
west Team 7 led by Jason
Loomis.
Brian Anderson, a dis-
trict ranger for the Wallowa
Mountains Office, greeted a
group of 50 people assigned
to the fires at the Wallowa
County Fairgrounds’ Clo-
verleaf Hall June 6. As his
agency’s representative on
the fire, he said the goal was
a full perimeter control of
the fires.
“It’s too early and the
conditions and outlooks
are not favorable, so we are
going to keep the fires to
minimum sizes and dura-
tions,” he said.
Anderson listed valu-
able rangeland grazed by
public land allotment per-
mittees as at risk from the
fires as well as infrastruc-
ture, recreational and cul-
tural resources, while Mitch
Thomas of the BLM, who
helped oversee the Joseph
Canyon Fire, said some of
the area within that foot-
print includes areas of eco-
logical, cultural and geo-
logic concern.
The troops on the ground
are some of the Northwest’s
most experienced firefighters
— smoke jumpers, hot shots,
and helicopter rappellers —
all accustomed to being dis-
patched to the roughest, least
accessible terrain.
Joe Hessel, ODF North-
east Oregon forester, said
the two fires were man-
aged the first few days by
four agencies in two states.
He said coordination among
the agencies is working well
due to long-standing rela-
tionships with each other
and landowners.
Ahead of Team 7’s
arrival, La Grande Unit For-
ester Logan McCrae served
as the Joseph Canyon Fire’s
operations chief. He said on
June 5 the fire was burn-
ing actively until dark on all
flanks. He said as much as
90% of the fireline had been
scouted and crews had a suc-
cessful burnout operation
between Cottonwood Creek
and the fire to decrease fuels
and reduce fire severity.
As of the morning of June
7, the Joseph Creek Fire had
consumed 4,000 acres.
Firefighters have
little success with Dry
Creek Fire
McCall, Idaho, smoke-
jumper Jason Foreman was
the initial incident com-
mander on the Dry Creek
Fire. He said he and crew
members jumped the Dry
Creek Fire at 2 p.m. June 4
and watched it grow from 20
acres to 200 acres.
“We had little success ini-
tially due to fire behavior,”
he said.
Zach Tayer, a Wallowa
County-based Forest Ser-
vice firefighter, served as
the operations chief ahead
of the transfer to Team 7. He
said two hotshot crews, nine
rapellers and two helicopters
were working on the fire’s
northern division, using the
Downy Gulch Road to con-
tain the blaze.
On the Hilo Division,
Tayer said firefighters were
securing the north edge and
working east near Cook
Creek.
At risk on the national
forest are a handful of graz-
ing allotments. Tayer said
cows grazing on Rye Ridge,
southwest of the Dry Creek
Fire, were removed from
their pasture for safety.
Crews are camped all
around the fires’ perimeters,
Tayer said. Food and supplies
are driven in or delivered via
helicopter. In some cases the
staging areas are a two-hour
drive from Enterprise.
Crews were able to make
some headway on the two
fires June 6 as temperatures
dropped, humidity rose and
winds died down. Tayer said
the goal was to get as much
headway on the fire before
temperatures warm up later
this week.
Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway open
from Anthony Lakes to Granite
By JAYSON JACOBY
Baker City Herald
Nice with clouds
and sunshine
Some sun, then
increasing clouds
Partly sunny and
breezy
Some sun, then
turning cloudy
Pleasant with
clouds and sun
PENDLETON TEMPERATURE FORECAST
72° 50°
70° 49°
71° 49°
84° 53°
74° 49°
HERMISTON TEMPERATURE FORECAST
77° 54°
76° 51°
75° 51°
88° 55°
77° 50°
OREGON FORECAST
ALMANAC
Shown is today’s weather. Temperatures are today’s highs and tonight’s lows.
PENDLETON
through 3 p.m. yest.
HIGH
LOW
TEMP.
Seattle
Olympia
62/46
69/45
73/46
Longview
Kennewick Walla Walla
73/51
Lewiston
79/57
63/46
Astoria
61/47
Pullman
Yakima 78/52
64/42
78/55
Portland
Hermiston
67/50
The Dalles 77/54
Salem
Corvallis
63/42
Yesterday
Normals
Records
La Grande
67/48
PRECIPITATION
John Day
Eugene
Bend
66/44
61/37
70/44
Ontario
83/58
Caldwell
Burns
65°
46°
77°
52°
102° (2016) 40° (2002)
24 hours ending 3 p.m.
Month to date
Normal month to date
Year to date
Last year to date
Normal year to date
Albany
64/43
0.00"
0.00"
0.19"
1.70"
1.43"
5.30"
WINDS (in mph)
81/54
71/41
0.00"
Trace
0.40"
4.03"
7.92"
6.91"
through 3 p.m. yest.
HIGH
LOW
TEMP.
Pendleton 69/44
67/46
24 hours ending 3 p.m.
Month to date
Normal month to date
Year to date
Last year to date
Normal year to date
HERMISTON
Enterprise
72/50
73/52
63°
39°
76°
51°
104° (1931) 34° (1919)
PRECIPITATION
Moses
Lake
65/44
Aberdeen
72/50
70/49
Tacoma
Yesterday
Normals
Records
Spokane
Wenatchee
66/49
Today
Boardman
Pendleton
Medford
67/47
Wed.
WSW 6-12
W 6-12
WSW 7-14
W 7-14
SUN AND MOON
Klamath Falls
61/35
Forecasts and graphics provided by AccuWeather, Inc. ©2021
Sunrise today
Sunset tonight
Moonrise today
Moonset today
5:06 a.m.
8:43 p.m.
4:07 a.m.
7:20 p.m.
New
First
Full
Last
June 10
June 17
June 24
July 1
NATIONAL EXTREMES
Yesterday’s National Extremes: (for the 48 contiguous states)
High 106° in Pecos, Texas Low 27° in Afton, Wyo.
NATIONAL WEATHER TODAY
BAKER CITY — The
Elkhorn Drive scenic byway
is a 106-mile loop, but by
late spring in most years just
a few sections of the paved
road, the total distance little
longer than a football field,
prevent drivers from mak-
ing the full trip.
This would have been
one of those years.
Until a crew from
Anthony Lakes Mountain
Resort got involved.
The obstacle is snow,
a substance that crew has
quite a lot of experience
with since their usual task is
moving snow during the ski
season.
On Tuesday, June 1,
Anthony Lakes workers fin-
ished plowing enough lin-
gering snow to clear one
full lane through the higher
elevations of the byway,
said Chelsea Judy, market-
ing director for Anthony
Lakes.
In most years, snow
blocks the two-lane byway
until mid to late June. In
2020 the route opened the
last week of that month.
Judy said Anthony Lakes
officials, after consulting
with the U.S. Forest Service,
which oversees the section
Peter Johnson/Contributed Photo
The Elkhorn Drive scenic byway on Thursday, June 3, 2021.
of the byway most prone
to persistent snowdrifts,
decided to punch through
those drifts.
“It’s something we took
on to help people be able to
get up and over,” she said.
“Over,” in this case,
meaning over Elkhorn
Summit, the 7,392-foot pass
about two miles west of
Anthony Lakes.
Elkhorn Summit is
the second-highest point
reached by a paved road in
Oregon. The only higher
paved road in the state is the
Rim Drive in Crater Lake
National Park, which tops
out at about 7,900 feet.
The longest-lasting snow-
drifts usually are along the 2
miles or so beyond Elkhorn
Summit, where the byway
crosses some areas sheltered
from the sun.
By punching through
drifts in that area, the
Anthony Lakes crew gave
travelers a way to access
places, such as the North
Fork John Day River camp-
ground and the Blue Moun-
tains Scenic Byway to
Ukiah, via Anthony Lakes
rather than through Sumpter
and Granite.
In the future, Anthony
Lakes will strive to open
at least one lane by Memo-
rial Day weekend, although
that goal might not always
be feasible depending on the
amount of snow, Judy said.
IN BRIEF
ODOT holds open house
online for curb ramp upgrade
WALLOWA COUNTY — People with
mobility issues soon will have a much easier
time getting to and from sidewalks in East-
ern Oregon, according to an Oregon Depart-
ment of Transportation press release.
Starting in 2022, ODOT will repair and
upgrade hundreds of sidewalk curb ramps
along state highways in several commu-
nities in Umatilla, Morrow, Wallowa and
Baker counties. The work is part of a state-
wide effort to bring curb ramps into compli-
ance with Americans with Disabilities Act
standards to improve mobility and safety.
To provide updated information and col-
lect feedback, ODOT is holding an online
open house through Friday, June 18. During
this time, residents can visit https://tinyurl.
com/EasternOregonADA2022 to review
project information, maps, photos and vid-
eos or submit questions and feedback.
Eastern Oregon communities that are
part of this 2022 construction project include
Pendleton, Pilot Rock, Ukiah, Milton-Free-
water, Helix, Athena, Wallowa, Lostine,
Joseph, Heppner, Ione, Lexington and Baker
City.
— EO Media Group
Shown are noon positions of weather systems and precipitation. Temperature bands are highs for the day.
-10s
-0s
0s
showers t-storms
10s
rain
20s
flurries
30s
snow
40s
ice
50s
60s
cold front
E AST O REGONIAN
— Founded Oct. 16, 1875 —
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