Camp Sherman is a small community nestled in the middle of the Deschutes National Forest west of Sisters, Oregon. Surrounded by ponderosa pine, and near the headwaters of the Metolius River, the beauty of the area masks the threat of wildfire that persists each summer. Recently the Sisters Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) ranked Camp Sherman as an area of extreme risk, with heavy pockets of fuel potentially promoting extreme fire behavior to the west and north; a fact proven in 2003 when the B & B Complex forced the evacuation of residents living in the wildland urban interface. Since 1994 almost 20 large fires have threatened the Greater Sisters area.

In order to help facilitate fuel removal, Deschutes National Forest employees have been actively participating on a committee for a local public program titled FireFree. FireFree is designed to create awareness and education regarding wildfire risk, and the steps needed to reduce those risks. In Central Oregon, a strong partnership with the Deschutes County Department of Solid Waste and Deschutes Recycling provides the foundation for sponsored FireFree Clean-Up Days. These events provide homeowners with free disposal of unlimited amounts of yard debris at local recycling stations and the landfill. In 1998, the program collected over 9,000 cubic yards of debris and was an instant success. The event has since grown from a weekend to about 13 collection days around the county, and in 2007, residents voluntarily brought in almost 34,000 cubic yards of debris – the equivalent of a 20-foot deep pile on a football field!

Camp Sherman FireFree

In June 2008, the first FireFree debris collection occurred at Camp Sherman. Using 30-yard dumpsters located at the Allingham Guard Station, residents brought in 119 cubic yards of flammable debris. The FireFree committee worked closely with the Deschutes National Forest to ensure the collection site would not transfer noxious weeds, and volunteers staffed the dumpsters to ensure residents only disposed of yard debris. The event was a huge success, with people expressing sincere thanks and a desire to continue the effort on an annual basis. As a result, the next time fire threatens their homes, Camp Sherman residents will have a safer, and more defensible, community.

For more information on this program, contact Lisa Clark, Fire Mitigation Specialist at lmclark@or.blm.gov or (541)416-6864.