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In an effort to replicate the natural successional process, the plan includes:
The plan also prioritizes:
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.
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:
Partners use recovery responses of understory grasses and wildflowers as well as bird surveys as indicators of forest health.
The strategic community engagement plan was created with community stakeholders and is regularly updated. Community engagement is critical for assisting: