Fires Close In Near Oregon’s Top Nursery Production Area

A fiery sky looms over field crew buses at the JFS Barlow Farm near Canby, OR. “Very smoky right now,” says Nancy Buley, JFS communications director, “but not dark like it was yesterday at our Canby farm about 20 miles south of Boring. Scary times.” Photo by Barlow Farm Manager Richard Lang.


We’ve all been hearing about the devastating fires rampaging through the West. And wholesale tree grower J. Frank Schmidt & Son.,Co, based in Boring, OR, has found themselves near the frontlines over the past week—though fortunately, a safe distance from the flames. Located in Clackamas County, their farms are among many nurseries alerted by the county to “Be Set” or “Evacuate” from the Riverside Fire, one of the six largest fires in the state. The area is part of the Willamette Valley, the center of Oregon nursery production.

Turf was working on an article for our Fall issue with Nancy Buley, J. Frank Schmidt communications director, when the fires started. The article topic? Developing trees for changing climate conditions and extreme weather. The irony is not lost on us.

“The fires are as horrific and devastating as you have seen on the news. The air quality is horrible. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Boring right now is 516 (500 is top of the scale!). It’s very smoky and foggy, but at least the East Wind has died down and the humidity has risen so the fires are not spreading as rapidly. Such beautiful forests destroyed, lives lost, hundreds of homes, more than 40,000 people evacuated,” wrote Buley in an email last Thursday.

The majority of the fires are in California (25), Washington (16), Oregon (13) and Idaho (10), though blazes have also emerged in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, the National Interagency Fire Center said Sunday morning, according to CNN.

For a recent Turf article on landscaping to reduce fire risk, click here.

Fire-tinged skies and thick smoke cloud the view from the front door of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., wholesale tree growers in Boring, OR. Photo by Nancy Buley, JFS communications director.