MEDFORD, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry says that it will put $1.8 million toward forest resiliency and wildfire prevention projects across southern Oregon — seven between Jackson, Josephine, and Curry counties, and another seven in Klamath and Lake counties.
The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board in January allocated a total of $5 million for reducing wildfire risk across the state. ODF said that it has a total of 37 projects statewide that will use the funds.
"The funds from the Emergency Board provide the state with an incredible opportunity to bring together public and private groups to complete some critical fuels mitigation work in advance of the 2021 fire season," said Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty. "This is shared stewardship in action. When we work together, we can treat more acres across ownership boundaries and have a greater impact on fire resiliency in communities and forests throughout the state."
The vast majority of these projects involve direct treatments of forestland. In southern Oregon, projects will focus on removing flammable stands of gorse on the coast and fuel treatment around Ashland, Gold Hill, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, Rogue River, Wimer and the Bear Creek Valley. Three projects will focus on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and two on the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
In all, the projects are expected to result in more than 7,000 acres treated for fuel reduction, 750 trees felled, 20 miles of right-of-way fuel mitigation treatments, and hundreds of hours of volunteer work and training for young adults.
Funding for new staff members will also help ODF keep seasonal firefighters working outside of peak fire season.
"That’s already paid off in central Oregon because we had trained firefighting staff doing fuels treatment work when a large wildfire was reported in late March," said Jeff Burns, Partnership and Planning Program Manager for ODF. "They were able to join the response, adding to our initial attack capability even as they reduce potential fire intensity with their fuels treatment.”