Forest Officials Hope To Gain Advantage Over Potential Wildfires

Apr 15, 2021

Lane County has begun six projects intended to proactively reduce wildfire risks.

In this September 2020 photo, a firefighter uses a drip torch to burn parts of a meadow ahead of the Holiday Farm Fire. The strategy behind such controlled burns is to deprive active wildfires potential fuels.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Of $5 million allocated to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) by a state legislative board, $581,000 is being spent in Lane County.  The idea is to improve community resilience to wildfires, while also maintaining healthy forests through reducing fuels like slash and debris.

Jeff Burns, the ODF’s partnership and planning program manager, said there are many partnerships involved in such an effort, including private landowners.

“We’re building a long-term relationship that may go well beyond a fuels mitigation project, into eventual insect and disease issues, or water quality issues or enable landowners to take advantage of particular programs in the future.”

Altogether, 37 projects have been funded across Oregon to help offset destructive wildfires.  With 2020’s wildfire season being the worst in the state’s recorded history, officials are really working hard to be proactive.

State officials hope 2021's wildfire season won’t reach the disastrous levels of last year. Burns said this is behind the push to proactively remove slash and debris from public and private lands.

“But we have some drought conditions in the south, and the Central Cascade range,” said Burns.  “So we’re taking a strong look at that, but conditions change so frequently that what we can do is prepare, and stay flexible, and react better when we have those forecasts in front of us.”

In its April report, the National Interagency Fire Center says central Oregon will likely see above normal potential for fire beginning in June.  Areas in Lane County include Crow, Veneta, and the McKenzie Bridge area. 

Altogether, the $5 million is being used in 37 projects across the state.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.