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Eugene Parks receive funds for wildfire fuels reduction

Four people working to clear trees and branches on a road between forested areas. There's machinery and a dumpster in the background.
Eugene Parks and Open Space
The funding has helped with work to remove hazardous fuels at Skinner Butte Park near downtown Eugene.

An influx of money will help with ongoing work to prevent wildfires in Eugene’s parks.

The annual funding from the Bureau of Land Management supports fuels reduction projects on 1,250 acres at 20 Ridgeline and neighborhood parks.

Shelly Miller is supervisor for ecological services and GIS with Eugene Parks and Open Space.

She said the money supports their work to reduce hazardous fuel loads in parks. They’ve cut back invasive and overgrown shrubs and trees. That also helps improve access for firefighters. And it improves native habitats and helps to open more areas to the public.

She said at Skinner Butte Park, near downtown, human-caused fires are a problem. But, the work they’ve done to clear hazardous vegetation helps firefighters access and extinguish fires quickly.

“That also reduces the nature of the fire so it’s not moving up into the tree canopy and causing really more dangerous and potentially catastrophic situation, particularly in an area close to businesses and homes for Skinner Butte,” Miller said.

A fire at Moon Mountain Park in Julywas contained before it got to nearby homes. Miller said that fire might actually benefit the park’s prairie upland habitat.

“The fuels-reduction work that we’ve done in the past did help protect the large trees that are up there and help protect the community in terms of not having a lot of what are called ladder fuels going up into the tree canopy,” Miller said.

Miller said some Eugene parks have really been transformed by the fuel reduction work and improvement of native habitat funded through these grants. That includes Iris Ridge, Suzanne Arlie, and Black Oak Basin.

This year’s grant of $157,400 will help them expand the projects to more parks. Miller said they’ve concentrated on parks south of the Willamette River and on the ridgeline trail. But they plan to do more work in parks in west and north Eugene, including at Bond Lane Park.

The city is leading a tour of Moon Mountain Park on Saturday morning to view its recovery from this summer’s fire.

Be advised that the trail is uneven and somewhat steep terrain. Participants will meet at the end of Weldon Lane. Due to limited parking, the city asks those attending to consider carpooling or walking if you live nearby. Saturday, September 16, 9 - 11 a.m.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.