PRIVATE SECTOR, PUBLIC SERVICE:

Forestry and Fire Consulting and project work

Defensible space creation and FireWise property management

Tree climbing, thinning, falling, and removals

Restoration forestry and post-fire rehab

Chipping, pine needle cleanups, and fire fuels/debris hauling

Full service firewood

Click the link to the right and check out our Facebook page for daily updates, interesting links, and great information about forestry and fire!

Performance Evaluation notes – Shadow Lake Fire

September 17th, 2011

As things wind down on a wildland fire suppression assignment, all personnel and resources are required to have their performance evaluated by their direct supervisor. Mine, for most of this assignment, was Bill Elam, a BLM employee and veteran firefighter working as Task Force Leader on the incident:

Quality of Service:“Contractor (Running Tree) was able to complete all assigned tasks with minimal direction and followup. Contractor demonstrated excellent situational awareness during burn over event on Division B”

Timeliness of Performance:“All assigned tasks were completed within expected time frames. Delays for routine maintenance and minor repairs did not affect the contractor’s ability to complete assigned tasks.”

Business Relations:“Contractor was a pleasure to work with. Contractor is very knowledgeable of wildfire suppression and demonstrated good situational awareness. Contractor communicated well, both up and down the chain of command as well as laterally between similar resources.”


Key Personnel:“Eric has demonstrated that he has an excellent understanding of wildfire, fire behavior, fire weather, suppression tactics, and the ICS (Incident Command System) in general. A pleasure to have working on our division.”

Needless to say, I am humbled. This fire has had it all in terms of fire behavior and challenges, and I’m fortunate to have had this experience. Many thanks to too many great people to list.

We are on a fire assignment!

September 7th, 2011

Thanks for being patient while I work the Shadow Lake Fire – if you live anywhere in Central Oregon, you’ve seen, smelled, and heard a lot about it. It’s over 4,000 acres as of yesterday, and we have hot, dry weather ahead of us this week. I may be busy for awhile, but please do leave a message or send an email to eric@runningtree.net if you are interested in having some defensible space work done at your home once we are finished up here. If you are looking for info about the fire, please go to http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2550/ – thanks!

Eric Metzger

Are you on Facebook?

July 26th, 2011

If you are on Facebook, even if you do not intend to hire us for a project, please click HERE to “like” and follow our page. We post news and information about forestry, fire, ecology, and trees every single day on our Facebook page, and so far over 800 people have joined the conversation. While the site you are on now does get updated regularly and has much more info about this business, the Facebook page is much more geared toward to a give-and-take conversation about the issues affecting us as we work to restore your forests and protect your homes here in Central Oregon. Check it – and thank you!

What happens at your house during a fire – but after an evacuation?

July 24th, 2011
As the peak of fire season approaches in Central Oregon, I see more dead grasses just waiting for a spark, grasses that will carry fire into the brush, and then the trees – and then right into our neighborhoods.

But have you ever wondered what happens after you have been evacuated, when the fire is bearing down on your home and your neighborhood, and all you have is faith in firefighters to save everything you own? Here is a little bit of insight into how we firefighters think, and the considerations we need to make, when the conditions are so bad that hundreds or thousands of acres are burning every day, homes are being lost, and the situation is very much out of your control. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the Sheriff has ordered your evacuation for your own safety, and you weren’t able to pack all your valuables.

First, let me explain the perspective I bring to this article. For the purposes of this writing, I am a firefighter – on the ground, leading a 20-person hand crew, assigned to structure protection in an urban-interface neighborhood. I will write in the first person so that it hits home with you. I have been in this situation many times before. I am one small moving part in a massively complex machine, but one that works fairly smoothly, with a culture of discipline and emphasis on safety and good communication.

Continued – read more at my blog HERE

Letter to Deschutes County Forester Joe Stutler, from Brown Thompson, Treasurer, Awbrey Glen HOA

July 21st, 2011

Joe Stutler, Deschutes County Forester

“I would like to comment on the quality of the contractors we selected to complete the Defensible Space work in Awbrey Glen.

“In early 2010 we selected five Deschutes County certified contractors from your list and requested that they join us for an inspection of the entire Awbrey Glen area and, if interested to submit quotations for fuel reduction work in their respective specialties. Each of these firms were clearly highly qualified and informative.

“For the Deschutes County Spring and Fall WildFire program, we contracted with Eric Metzger of Running Tree to conduct our “drive through the Glen” roadside pickup program. This program required our contractor to drive through five miles of roads several times every day and pick-up all bags of combustible yard litter and deliver it to a county recycle center, plus on the last day of the scheduled program come through with a chipping machine and chip up all of the limbs ad small trees stacked roadside.

“In total Running Tree removed at least 3,100 cubic yards of material from the Glen during these three WildFire programs in 2010 and 2011. All done in a most cost effective manner! And I would certainly want to make note of the fact that when a serious problem occurred, Eric quickly found a solution. On the last day of our Spring 2011 program he encountered a problem with his chipping machine, resulting in several hundred cubic yards of material remaining on the side of our roads. His solution was to immediately find a replacement machine he could borrow, and he returned to complete the task with only a minor delay. Clearly a contractor working at a professional level!

“In my opinion, Running Tree provided the Awbrey Glen community with the highest level of professional service possible. And I would recomment them to anyone who might require fire fuel reduction work of any kind”

Respectfully,

/signed/

Brown Thompson III
Treasurer, Awbrey Glen Homeowners Association

On June 14, USFS Chief Tidwell spoke to Congress about Wildfire Management

July 4th, 2011

 

Introducing the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, Chief  Tidwell opened with a statement that US wildland fire suppression resources are the best in the world, are always improving, and are prepared for the coming fire season. He emphasized that “wildfires know no boundaries”, so cooperation between federal, state, and local resources is critical, and effective (Indeed, it is very effective).

The commitments of the strategy:

  • Wildfire response
  • Risk-informed performance
  • Support for state and local agencies
  • Assistance to fire-adapted communities

 

He outlines three “main components” of the strategy, which I will summarize below, adding my own perspective and goals as the owner and operator of Running Tree Forestry and Fire.

Restoring and maintaining resilient landscapes

We need to restore our forests to a more natural, fire-resistant, ecologically diverse condition – and then we need to work continually to keep them that way. You’ve heard this, I’m sure, but the bottom line is that we – human society – have changed the landscape around us dramatically, most detrimentally by suppressing all fires for about the last one hundred years. Fire has a place in the ecosystem – indeed, most places that have fire now, had it for thousands of years before we came along. That fire was almost always lower intensity, burning here and there, creating pockets of diversity, clearing out accumulated dead material, killing small trees and favoring larger, more healthy ones.

In fact “the net effect (on most animal numbers) is positive” following a wildfire, according to one study I recently read. Tidwell said in his testimony that “many ecosystems across the country are out of balance and in need of restoration” – a massive fuel load, invasions of pests, and large swaths of dead and dying timber – and that these imabalances pose a great risk, in the form of extreme fire danger, to our communities.

But we can change fire behavior with restorative, preventative work in these forests, and we need to be doing so. Every year, the USFS and it’s cooperators treat millions of acres by hand, mechanically, and with prescribed fire.  One of my biggest early influences, before buying this company, was the book Mimicking Nature’s Fire by Stephen Arno – a call to do in a controlled way, what natural, uncontrolled fire had been doing long before we came along. Tidwell calls for a combined effort, bringing together and coordinating existing fuels management programs with the Integrated Resource Restoration line item in the President’s FY 2012 budget, and calls for more community engagement in these projects through the locally-planned Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Programs.

 

You can read more (and please do!) at my other blog - thanks!


Spring is here!

April 22nd, 2011

And that means it’s time to start thinking about fire season! We’ve been thinking about it all winter – and have been working hard to help save homes from fire. With a couple of big jobs (and a lot of little ones) complete, and several more on deck, we’re doing our part to help homes and neighborhoods prepare before fire season is upon us!

The City of Bend recently sent out another round of letters reminding residents of the Flammable Vegetation Ordinance (and of the fines that come along with noncompliance!), and we’ve been bidding jobs as a result. We are proud to say that every single project that we’ve had inspected by Fire Department personnel has been approved as “wildland fire safe” on the first pass! That is because this is what we do – we aren’t loggers or landscapers, we are first and foremost FIREFIGHTERS!

If you would like an assessment of your fire danger and our recommendations, please call 541.410.6666 or email eric@runningtree.net for a free consultation. I can point out where your hazards are, suggest fire-resistant plants, and look at your home and neighborhood with the eye of a firefighter, and give you an honest opinion.

The other annual rite of Spring in Deschutes County, FireFree weekend, will soon be upon us as well. That means it’s time to rake up your pine needles, limb up your trees, and clear out the brush and shrubs that present a fire hazard, and haul them away. Look for debris in the gutters and on the roof, brush beneath trees that can act as ladder fuels, and dense thickets of vegetation will provide fuel for the fire, and clean them up. When and where do you get rid of these?

  • Friday May 6 through Saturday May 14 at Knott Landfill in Bend (not open Sundays)
  • Friday and Saturday May 6 & 7 AND May 13 & 14 at the Westside Recycling station on Simpson Ave (not open on Sundays)
  • Friday and Saturday May 20 & 21 at the other Deschutes County transfer stations

Wild and beautiful fire…

December 17th, 2010

We all all love living in Central Oregon because it is wild and beautiful – but one of the wildest and most beautiful things about this place we call home is also the most destructive – forest fire. It’s a fact of life we choose to live with. Running Tree, LLC, owned and operated by experienced wildland firefighters, can assess the potential risk to your home and property, explain state and local laws and regulations, and perform the work to help you create a safer space around your home, leaving a clean, beautiful landscape that encourages forest health and diversity while slowing the rapid spread of wildfire.

Do you live in southern Deschutes County?

October 25th, 2010

If so, a great opportunity is being missed! The Upper Deschutes River Coalition has secured grant funding through Deschutes County Forester Joe Stutler for picking up roadside fire fuels – if you rake your pine needles, thin out and limb up your trees, and cut the thick brush, and move it all to the side of the road, contractors like Running Tree will come haul it away at no cost to you! This work is spread out among several contractors and will take place in a dozen neighborhoods in south county, but we are put on hold right now because homeowners are not participating. Contact Upper Deschutes River Coalition for details, and let’s all work together to reduce your fire danger!

Grant monies available!

October 7th, 2010

We have a direct line to some of the better grants written for forestry and fire work being performed in Central Oregon. Please contact us here if you think you might qualify for one of these:

Juniper Removal – if your property is within Deschutes County and is in a current or historic (but now dry) watershed, there is grant money available to remove juniper trees, for the purpose of raising the water table and returning water to the watershed – with great benefits in plant diversity, fire safety, and forest health resulting as well!

Wildland-Urban Interface fire safety – the Oregon Department of Forestry has identified the Dorrance Meadow area southwest of La Pine and the Wilt Road area northeast of Sisters as priority areas for hazardous fuels reduction, and may be able to offset your costs for our work out there.

And there are other options as well, so it never hurts to ask! Please email us from the link above (our contact page) or call 541.410.6666 for an estimate and more information.

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