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Key Objectives of the AFR Project:
- Reduce the risk of large-scale wildfire
- Help large, old trees survive fire, insects and disease
- Restore a healthy forest ecosystem
- Uphold and protect critical watershed values
- Human life and property
- Older forests
- Abundant, clean drinking water
- Wildlife habitat
- Ecological sustainability
In an effort to replicate the natural successional
process, the plan includes:
- thinning smaller trees
- reducing flammable fuels
- conducting controlled burns
The plan also prioritizes:
- saving the largest trees
- preserving habitat for wildlife dependent on older forests
- preserving stream-side habitat thereby ensuring water quality
- protecting unstable slopes and erodible soils
The resulting landscape will keep our community safer from the threat of severe wildfire and still provides quality wildlife habitat and clean water for Ashland.
Additional AFR Facts
- AFR is a stewardship agreement between the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Ashland, The Nature Conservancy, and Lomakatsi Restoration Project.
- Investment of $6.2 million in Economic Recovery ("Stimulus") funds work through December 2013.
- Recent funds from the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnerships program and the Forest Service Hazardous Fuels program are boosting AFR through 2016.
- 7,600 acres of work will be completed over 10 years.
- The science-based project is implemented and monitored collaboratively with opportunities for public review and input.
- AFR provides the community with local jobs and workforce training, as well as educational opportunities for over 2000 local students to date.
Our Present Forest
The mark of a healthy forest is its ability to recover from disturbances such as fire, drought or disease. Our local forests were adapted to frequent low intensity fire for many centuries, among other disturbances. The large pines, with their thick bark, are scarred, but can survive repeated fires. However, more recently these dry, previously open forests have grown dense with young Douglas-fir, Pacific madrone and white fir as a result of fire suppression and past management. Now, if a fire burns, it is more likely to be a high intensity fire that can burn the largest trees and sacrifice the protective layers which hold soils and keep the watershed intact. Old trees also must compete for water and nutrients with dense young growth, weakening and increasing their vulnerability to insect damage and disease. The effects of these changing forest conditions at a landscape scale can be seen in a comparison of aerial photos.
Local stakeholders are working closely with the Forest Service to monitor each step of the process. A multi-party monitoring project ensures that plans are followed, and that measurable results are used to make any necessary adjustments to the management actions along the way.
At an initial workshop, a diverse group of 20 technical stakeholders advocated for the development of a comprehensive, long-term - and fundable - monitoring plan. To ensure transparency and accessibility, the group called for a science-based delivery system, and for placing data, photos and interpretation on a user-friendly website.
To answer what should be monitored, the group proposed the following as top indicators of forest health:
- water quality
- large tree preservation and survival
- retention of old-growth forest.
Partners use recovery responses of understory grasses and wildflowers as well as bird surveys as indicators of forest health.
- the public in developing a greater understanding of the AFR project and its mission
- our partners in determining the best method for involving volunteers and students in opportunities that give back to this precious resource
- everyone in learning more about our watershed and forest