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Helping forests recover after a wildfire

The Bureau of Land Management helps forests get back on their feet after a severe wildfire. The program that helps forests get back to normal is called emergency stabilization and rehabilitation.

Posted: Aug 1, 2020 11:42 PM
Updated: Aug 2, 2020 10:20 AM

MEDFORD, Ore.-- Every year wildfires scorch lands across the state of Oregon and California, leaving a scar of dead trees, forests and wildlife. 

But after a fire burns the landscape, who is left in charge of cleaning up the mess and repairing the damages? Well for the Bureau of Land Managment, they've got the ESR.

'We start looking at the potiential for emergency stabilization and rehabilitation during the fire," said Lisa Meredith, who is the Medford District Silviculture lead for the BLM.

According the reports from the BLM last year, more than 300 wildfires were started between Oregon and California and burnt nearly fifty-thousand acres of land. 

Although the ESR team was created to help stabilize forests after a severe wildfire, experts say that stabilization is not always required.

"In some areas, if the fire can recover naturally then its not nessecary to do ESR," Meredith said. "But those are all things that we evalute for during the fire."

Now the severity of a wildfire can dictate whether the ESR team is called. Two years ago when the Miles Fire affected more than 84 miles of land in the Rouge River National Forest, the ESR was called in to help repair some of the damages. Some of the repairs included replanting trees, creating barriers to stop landslides where the soil had been damaged and even fixing some of the nearby rivers.

"We had a lot of large wood that was in the streams that was consumed by the fire," said Chris Volpe, who is a BLM Fish Biologist. "That was a concern for us from the fishery standpoint. So we tried these J-Hooks for the first time ever and the intent of them was to slow the water down on that road side and cause it to degrate material to form a gravel guard and eventually push the channel away from the road."

Even though the repairs for the Miles Fire have been done for a few years, ESR team members say that they will continue to monitor the area to make sure all repairs are working properly. 

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