FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
DATE: February 7, 2017
CONTACT: Chris Chambers, Forest Division Chief
The City of Ashland Forest Lands Commission recently completed a major overhaul of the City’s forest management plan. The 2016 Ashland Forest Plan was approved by the Ashland City Council in May of 2016 and represents the first update of the original 1992 Ashland Forest Plan, which had provided direction for nearly 25 years. The updated plan is now available on the City’s website at www.ashland.or.us/forestplan
with a separate link to a powerful interactive map package of individual parcel and topic overview maps. A hard copy is available at the Ashland Public Library.
The City of Ashland owns 1,131 acres of undeveloped forestland, most of which lies at the base of the Ashland Creek Watershed. Nine new parcels, totaling 172 acres administered by the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission, are now included in the City’s comprehensive forest management strategy. These nine parcels include Ashland Ponds and Hald-Strawberry Park. The 2016 Ashland Forest Plan addresses municipally-owned forestlands only.
A new feature in the 2016 Ashland Forest Plan is a chapter that addresses the changing climate. Restoration projects on City forestlands make them more resilient to ecosystem changes, thanks to the ongoing guidance of consulting forester Marty Main of Small Woodland Services, Inc. Main was hired by former Fire Chief Keith Woodley to work with the Ashland Forest Lands Commission to implement the 1992 Ashland Forest Plan. Main has effectively guided the City’s forestlands restoration and wildfire hazard reduction projects since 1995.
“The 1992 Ashland Forest Plan provided the City with a strong foundation to build on. Incorporating existing forest inventory data and personal knowledge of City staff, consultants, and Forest Lands Commissioners into a Geographic Information System (GIS) database brings our ecosystem management approach into the 21st
century,” said Frank Betlejewski, Forest Commission Chair and 12-year member of the commission.
The 2016 Ashland Forest Plan underscores and relies on the City’s substantial catalog of ecosystem data that has been collected to monitor restoration work over the last 25 years. This dataset demonstrates changes in conditions over time and has validated the outcomes of management strategies like tree thinning and controlled burns. With the City’s improved analytical capabilities, the information available in the new plan has the potential to improve decision-making that leads to a decreased wildfire threat to the community and our upslope municipal water supply, guides ongoing adaptations to a changing climate, and maintains and enhances wildlife habitat and ecosystem health.
“Citizens of Ashland should be proud that our forests are so well cared for and for the citizen- volunteers who put in thousands of hours on their behalf to create a highly technical and relevant plan for the future of our forestlands,” added City Councilor Stefani Seffinger, the Council liaison to the Forest Lands Commission.