West Bear Initiative
In April, Governor Kate Brown visited the West Bear All-Lands Restoration Project to show her support for large-scale restoration efforts across the Rogue Basin. She praised the collaborative partners of the Rogue Valley for their ability to come together and advance win-win solutions that reduce wildfire risks to nature and people. We worked closely with an array of community organizations, public agencies, county, and municipal fire departments to design the West Bear project boundary and objectives. The 27,000-acre footprint spans the wildland-urban interface west of the I-5 corridor, in the foothills of Talent, Phoenix, west Medford, and Jacksonville. This densely populated part of the Rogue Basin is ranked highest in need for forest restoration and risk reduction close to communities.
Lomakatsi Restoration Project planted the seed for the West Bear project after securing funding of $490,000 for the Anderson Creek Hazardous Fuels Mitigation Project through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Following the Almeda Fire, we worked with Sustainable Northwest – who brought a $2 million grant – to leverage additional investments. The Partners helped delineate the West Bear landscape and Lomakatsi sponsored a proposal to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and received a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant of $2.6 million. In addition to supporting West Bear, the Partners are exploring ongoing work with the Oregon Department of Forestry, two Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Title II projects, and the proposed Jacksonville Community Protection project.
Rogue Forest Restoration Initiative (RFRI)RFRI is a collaborative effort to implement ecological restoration and fuels reduction on 6,000 acres across six strategically selected sites in the Rogue Basin.
- Williams: RFP, BLM and the NRCS partnered on an “all-lands” approach to cross-boundary coordination to treat adjacent parcels on both federal and private lands. Lomakatsi has completed ecological fuel reduction on 194 acres of private lands and 80 acres of BLM lands. The work continues through 2022-23.
- Upper Applegate: Klamath Bird Observatory conducted a pre-treatment bird monitoring survey on 36 ecological thinning commercial units covering 1,371 acres. Surface and ladder fuels reduction work started in mid-May on 276 acres, consistent with the Upper Applegate Environmental Assessment, with more acreage to follow.
- Shan Apple: These treatments are part of the larger Upper Briggs Project on the ridge above the Applegate River in the Illinois Valley, within the Wild Rivers Ranger District of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. A local workforce prepared 194 acres for ecological commercial thinning, and implementation will begin later in 2021.
Multi-party Monitoring and Third-Party Review
We want to thank the RFRI Implementation Review Team for their thoughtful review of the Upper Applegate project. In place of an in-person event, the Partners provided a virtual meeting with field maps, photos, descriptions of representative units, and thoughtful discussions. Implementation members included recreation, Tribal, industry, and conservation representatives. The team expressed strong support for prescribed fire and continued progress toward a landscape where fire management options are improved. Climate adaptation approaches incorporated into the project were also broadly supported. The prescriptions, especially with the strong emphasis on spatial patterning, were perceived as beneficial for wildfire, fire risk mitigation, and forest resilience.
Monitoring Plan: This spring, we drafted a multi-party monitoring plan based on past monitoring efforts such as the Ashland Forest All-Lands Restoration Initiative, input from recent public meetings, and review by researchers and academics from the USDA Forest Service Pacific and Southwest research stations, Humboldt University, Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University, and others. The monitoring will keep tabs on five restoration objectives:
- Promote resilient landscapes (forest health, wildlife, songbirds);
- Reduce wildfire risk and improve fire management;
- Build public knowledge and support;
- Grow capacity for planning, implementation, monitoring, outreach/engagement; and
- Improved socioeconomic conditions and ecological restoration workforce.
We recognize the importance of working in landscapes where people live and work. Their mission is to collaborate with communities to reduce the hazards to our homes, roads, woodlands, and forests while learning to live with fires that become more “mild” and less “wild.”