Your Forest Update for September 2021

Aug 11, 2021News from Our Partners

Applegate Valley Wildfire Education Fair

On June 26th, members of the Rogue Forest Partners (RFP) attended a community wildfire education fair hosted by A Greater Applegate and the Applegate Valley Fire District. Representatives from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State University, Bureau of Land Management, Southern Oregon Prescribed Fire Association, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild), and Prescription for Safety also joined the event.

What was initially planned to be an outdoor event was driven indoors by record-setting high temperatures, but thankfully, the heat did not deter Applegate residents. Gladly, RFP had an opportunity to discuss ecological forest restoration and wildfire risk reduction efforts with local landowners. Topics included planned fuels reduction treatments across public and private lands, creating defensible space around homes, the need for ecological forest restoration, and local resources available. It was a pleasure to meet community members, and we look forward to doing so again!

Engaging our local Workforce

This spring, our lead implementation partner, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, completed cutting and piling on 100 acres of ecological fuels reduction in our Applegate Watershed (UAW) project area. At times, LRP crews received piling assistance from a local forestry contractor, and Rogue Valley High School students as part of Lomakatsi’s 9th annual Ashland Watershed Youth Training & Employment Program.

This work followed months of RFP planning, and prescription writing, pre-work assessments, and treatment marking by LRP’s restoration forestry team. With fire season restricting chainsaw operation in the woods and LRP’s crew called to assist on the Bootleg Fire, work will resume on the remaining 175 acres in the Applegate this fall.

Later this year, LRP and partners will send requests for proposals for commercial thinning work at UAW, where small-diameter timber removed as the by-product of restoration will be sold to local mills. The revenue generated will then be reinvested back into our project areas for more restoration. The additional funds are particularly critical in high-priority areas such as the Wildland Urban Interface that do not have commercially viable timber and traditionally lack adequate funding. We strive to source all contractors locally and encourage those in the Applegate and Rogue Valleys to stay tuned and consider submitting proposals.

Implementation Review Team visits Williams Project

Our Williams project area spans 6,625 acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and several private landowners in the Williams community. On June 24th, the RFP implementation review team (IRT) toured two units in the project to assess management plans, accomplishments, challenges, and next steps. Implementation members included recreation, Tribal, industry, and conservation representatives.

The units’ treatments primarily focus on reducing wildfire hazards to help limit the spread of fire towards adjacent homes and provide safe and effective fire suppression opportunities.

Landowner objectives vary based on opportunity and landscape position, but generally, they include:

  1. Promote a healthy forest that is resilient to fire by enhancing the growing space of retained trees and proportion of hardwoods while encouraging tree and shrub diversity
  2. Reduction of hazardous surface & ladder fuels
  3. Clear along road and driveways to aid egress in the event of a potential wildfire
  4. Enhance wildlife and aquatic habitat quality
  5. Understory thinning using similar ecological practices for hazardous fuels reduction

Within the units reviewed, non-commercial tree removal was limited to trees less than 8″ diameter. The review team concluded these stands would have benefited from the removal of strategically selected trees of commercial value, those greater than 8.” Used in conjunction with selective thinning and pile burning, broadcast under burning was also strongly supported for the project.

Ecological thinning and underburning improve the health of retained trees and restore more open forest conditions for understory vegetation, restoring ecological function to these forests. With continued implementation, these treatments are expected to significantly reduce wildfire hazards and increase fire management options and safety.