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City of Talent Oregon / Fire Mitigation Strategies

Fire Mitigation Strategies

Fighting Fire with Fire
Critical hazard mitigation and ecosystem recovery work relies on fire as a necessary tool to prevent future wildfires.  
Restoration and Wildfire Mitigation projects continue along Wagner Creek and Bear Creek in Talent. We will be using fire to fight fire - please be aware that there are brush piles planned for burning over the course of the next few days or weeks prior to the start of fire season. These small fires will be constantly monitored. Jackson County Fire District 5, the City of Talent, and Jackson County Emergency Management will notify the public the day of intended burning through their collective social media pages.
The lowest section of Wagner Creek at its confluence with Bear Creek was recently cleared of potentially hazardous wildfire fuels by The Freshwater Trust funded by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). This is part of a large, concerted effort by multiple agencies to clean up and restore our greenways and prevent future wildfires.
Another wildfire mitigation and restoration project is getting started on the East side of Bear Creek from the bridge at West Valley View Rd to the Suncrest Rd bridge downstream. This work is also being managed by The Freshwater Trust with funding from OWEB. 
A third wildfire mitigation, hazardous fuels reduction, and restoration project is planned to start this fall on all remaining areas along Bear Creek within Talent and the sections of Wagner Creek that are under the jurisdiction of the City of Talent. This work will be funded by a Hazardous Fuels Mitigation grant from FEMA and managed by the City of Talent.
The approach the City of Talent and our collaborative partners in this restoration and wildfire risk reduction work are taking is to limit further harm to wildlife by conducting this work when critical wildlife are not actively nesting, breeding, or foraging. This means that we have limited windows of time in which to conduct this work and it will be completed in phases. In addition to working around the months of critical wildlife activity we are also working around extreme fire season restrictions which typically limit equipment use from June through September.
There are multiple ecological issues we are working to address along the greenway that all have impacts to our community. The goal is to restore and create a safe ecologically functional greenway.
We will do this by:

  1. Reducing the risk, large standing dead trees pose as both a fire fuel and potential for falling onto structures or people.
    1. Some of these dead trees, if deemed safe snags, will be retained as wildlife habitat as there is evidence that they are currently being utilized by bats, birds, mammals, and rodents (beavers).
    2. Due to the ecologically sensitive location of these dead trees and downed logs there isn’t a feasible way to mechanically remove them. Two approaches are being implemented to deal with this wood biomass material.
      1. It is our goal to leave as much habitat and soil building material in the riparian area as possible. In order to do this we will be creating habitat piles which consist of branches and logs covered with a mixture of wood chips and dirt.
      2. When the woody biomass is excessive for habitat and fire mitigation in restoration areas it will be piled and burned when it is safe to do so.
  2. Removing invasive plant species such as himalayan blackberry, poison hemlock, reed canary grass, and japanese knotweed.
    1. The extensive size of this area and the volume of invasive plant species presents both a current and future wildfire hazard and long-term management concerns. We will deploy a multifaceted approach utilizing mechanical maintenance and the City of Talent’s Integrated Pest Management Plan to control invasive plant species.    
  3. Replanting native diverse climate resilient species.
    1. Bear Creek and Wagner Creek are both home to seasonal spawning salmon populations and other wildlife species that require cool flowing water. Replanting trees that will shade the creeks is critical to restoring this ecosystem. 
    2. Replanting diverse native trees will create soil stabilization, improve water quality, and restore critical wildlife habitat.

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in these reforestation efforts, contact City of Talent Hazard Mitigation Coordinator Mike Oxendine at moxendine@cityoftalent.org.