The Ashland Forest Resiliency partnership is working with researcher Chris Dunn, Ph.D., of Oregon State University and the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station to inform proactive fire planning efforts being led by the City of Ashland. This year, two technical group were convened by the AFR partners where Dr. Dunn walked participants through data showing likely fire suppression opportunities, as participants collectively identified important values and examined where past fires have moved on the landscape. Dunn then compiled local fire managers’ input to refine data—including fire control line locations, fire suppression difficulty, road access, fuels, weather, and modeled fire threats for the Ashland Watershed and community—to produce a composite map of priorities and fire analysis report summary.
Part of the work evaluated how well wildfire hazards were mitigated by the acres of completed fuel reduction and ecological restoration treatments. The analysis informs current and ongoing efforts to refine wildfire planning using Potential Operational Delineations (PODs).
AFR completed forest thinning and prescribed fire across 13,000 acres, resulting in treatment of 20% of the lands in and around the Ashland watershed. In locations where ecological thinning and pile burning was completed and then, followed up with prescribed fire saw the greatest improvement for reduced flame length, resulting in improved safety for fire response and the community.
The City and partners invited local fire and management professionals and community leaders to a series of meetings and a workshop for a look at the proactive fire planning tools. Using PODs for wildfire planning is helping partners consider safe and effective fire response and prioritize investments in community and municipal watershed protection actions so the next mix of mechanical treatments and prescribed burns continue to be placed in the most effective locations.
In the map below, click the bottom right corner to expand and move the center slider left then right to explore how prescribed fire has improved the potential flame length and conditions for firefighter safety.
Community Prescribed Fire Forum
AFR Partner shared with community the purpose and benefits of controlled burning, an overview of AFR accomplishments during the past decade, brief description of strategic fire planning, recent science on prescribed fire, an overview of priority burns this coming year, show the various resources for burn notifications and health information.
Planning with Community Stakeholders
AFR partners convened a group of local community leaders to gather input on the resulting priority mapping. Local participants expressed excitement that fire managers are thinking strategically and using cutting edge analytical tools for informing fire response and mitigation. The refined PODs are being integrated into Rogue Forest Partners projects and other regional efforts and will be used for ongoing planning.
Proactive Fire Planning Across the West
Proactive and strategic fire planning using the PODs process is now utilized by large portions of National Forests across the Western U.S. These approaches are helping managers see where important values (communities, habitat, infrastructure) may be impacted by future wildfires, and the proactive actions needed for fire management that improves firefighter safety and outcomes for people and ecosystems. Across the 4.2 million forested acres of the Rogue Basin (including Ashland), PODs were drafted by fire and land managers with further input from broader interest groups in 2018 (report here). Now, Ashland fire and land managers are meeting for refinement of PODs based on locally defined values and opportunities, AFR project fuels reduction treatments, and are using the power of data analysis for informing future treatments.
Use the following resources for updates on controlled burning: