After a particularly challenging fire season, communities in southwest Oregon are feeling a renewed urgency to reduce fire risk around homes and expand forest restoration. The new Oregon State University Extension Fire Program is here to support this important work.
Our aim is to assist community groups, agencies and local authorities in expanding preparedness and risk-reduction, building collaborative, cross-boundary forest health projects and increasing the use of prescribed fire.
I am your local fire specialist, covering Douglas, Coos, Curry, Josephine and Jackson counties; five other regional specialists cover the rest of the state. My background is in fire ecology and collaborative landscape planning. During my PhD at the University of California, Davis, I worked with several Tribal nations in California to support initiatives to revitalize traditional burning practices.
I also spent time burning with Prescribed Burn Associations in California; these cooperatives of neighbors-helping-neighbors are making it possible for ranchers and private landowners to access this critical tool for keeping our landscapes and communities healthy. T
hese are some examples of communities rising to the current challenge and demonstrating what living well with fire can look like.
What can the Fire Program do for you? At this time, we are launching the Wildfire Wednesday’s Fire Aware. Fire Prepared program. This statewide campaign will help Oregonians prepare for wildfire through greater awareness and actions that you can take to prepare ahead of the fire season.
Local online sessions will follow, where you will learn details about fire and emergency response specific to this area. Information and links to recorded webinars and resources can be found on our online webinar guide: extension.oregonstate.edu/fire-program/online-webinar-guide. Join each session (or watch the recording) and start preparing now!
Another part of preparing your home and community is through reducing fuels: dead sticks, pine needles and shrubs that can increase the intensity of a wildfire. One of the most effective ways to do this is through intentional prescribed burns, but this has been mostly out of reach for private landowners until now.
Those who are curious about prescribed burning as a tool for reducing fuels and improving the health of the land are invited to reach out. There will be opportunities this spring to view federal prescribed burns and learn more about this process and how it might apply to your land.
Workshops, classes and field tours will also be available in the near future.
Oregon is the only state in the nation to have a dedicated Extension Fire Program; don’t hesitate to reach out so we can support you in moving towards a more fire-adapted future!