Fremont-Winema National Forest Service News

A portion of the Fremont-Winema National Forest became a part of the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary on March 11 at 6 a.m. and was announced in a ceremony held by Gov. Tina Kotek. The steering committee responsible for creating the Dark Sky Sanctuary was given the Governor’s Award for Tourism at the same time. The portion of the Forest designated as Dark Sky Sanctuary includes the area locally known as the North Warners, east of Lakeview, Oregon. The Sanctuary is the largest in the world at over 2 million acres, and includes Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Transportation, and Lake County lands. Fifteen percent of the Sanctuary consists of private lands.

All public agencies within the boundaries of the Sanctuary have signed a Lighting Management Plan, committing to certain restrictions on lighting in that area – however, private landowners are encouraged but not required to adhere to the same restrictions. The purpose of the sanctuary is to preserve the night skies in the Oregon Outback. The Fremont-Winema hosted sky quality meters, which determined that those areas of the forest included in the Sanctuary experience Bortle Class 1 skies. Class 1 on the Bortle scale of light pollution are the darkest skies possible on Earth – making the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary not only the largest in the world, but it also experiences the darkest skies in the world.

The Forest is anticipating an astronomy lab event on the weekend of June 6. Details will be forthcoming. It is expected to be held jointly with the Bureau of Land Management.

The Fremont-Winema National Forest expects to hold meetings to determine programs of work for 2025, which will affect the scope and direction of work performed on the Forest beginning Oct. 1. Meeting invitations will go out once those are officially scheduled.

Evan Wright, West Zone Fire Management Officer, is working with an intergovernmental and interagency group to treat and apply prescribed fire to a significant volume of land this Spring, which will put some smoke in the air, but also significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires for people living in and around the communities of Chiloquin and Sprague River. The majority of the residents of those areas live in what is known as the Wildland-Urban Interface, a zone where housing and forest intermingle. While beautiful, those areas are more at risk to wildfires, which is what Evan Wright’s plan intends to address. When complete, the risk of catastrophic wildfires in those areas will be significantly reduced.

U.S. Forest Service fire management officials still encourage homeowners to maintain defensible space around their homes, and bear in mind fire-resistant materials when performing any home repairs or renovations.

Benjamin Wilson is the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Forest Service.