BEND, OR -- With the high number of visitors in Central Oregon during last month's eclipse, the Forest Service was concerned about an increased danger of wildfire.
The Forest Service's Jean Nelson Dean says the with no clear frame of reference for Central Oregon's hosting that many extra people during fire season, the concerns were legitimate. "Nobody knew what to expect, we hadn't seen something like that before, so we all planned around a lot of, you know, 'what ifs'."
Nelson Dean says, thankfully, no major fires started during that intense week, and she believes it's because the Forest Rangers and other officials were vigilant about making sure visitors were aware of the danger and informed of the restrictions.
The region was already battling an intense fire season, but Nelson Dean says, to her surprise, while major fires were started before and after the eclipse week, there were none during, and she believes that's due to interagency cooperation in helping visitors avoid fire risk behaviors. "In some ways we were, at least in Central Oregon, we were already working together when we started seeing the Milli Fire and the Belknap fire over in the Ochocos, and so that was really helpful."
Nelson Dean says the Forest Service made sure visitors understood the fire risk, and will take the observations from having that many extra people in the area and apply it to planning future major events.