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Shevlin Park controlled burnForest Health & Fire Fuel Reduction

Historically fire played an essential ecological role across the Central Oregon landscape. Prior to European-American settlement, most ponderosa pine forests experienced fire intervals ranging from 5 to 15 years.

These frequent low intensity fires created open-park like stands with mature, fire-resistant ponderosa pines. Understory fuel loads were naturally managed as shade tolerant shrubs and trees were killed by frequent fires.

The District is reintroducing prescribed fire as part of its overall management of natural park areas. Improving vegetation health and managing fire fuels at parks and natural areas, makes the parks and natural areas more resistant and resilient to wildfire.

Goals of the vegetation management plan

  • Maintain plant communities that are resistant to a large scale disturbance
  • Create and maintain a landscape that is resilient to disturbance
  • Create and maintain wildlife habitat
  • Maintain natural aesthetics for increasing recreational opportunities
  • Preserve the historical and archaeological heritage of parks

About Prescribed Fire

Our Forests Need Fire

Fire helps the forest remain healthy.

Fire has and will always be a part of the landscape of Central Oregon. The forests and rangelands of the region are shaped by the frequency, pattern, and severity at which they burn. Ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer forests historically burned very frequently and with relatively low flame lengths, resulting in forests of large, widely spaced trees with scattered grasses and shrubs in many locations.

Without prescribed or naturally occurring fire in the 20th century, shrubs and smaller trees are more prevalent, providing fire fuel that is problematic.

Planning for Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fires are carefully planned and monitored to achieve goals.

Fire management is informed by research scientists who specialize in forest and fire ecology, wildlife biology, the interaction of insects and fire, and fire behavior. Fire professionals manage forest vegetation and fuels, and rely on an extensive system of monitoring to help evaluate the effectiveness of their work.

Restored Forests for Safer Communities

Forest management restores healthy forests and protects our communities.

Vegetation management is a year-round effort with thinning, brush mowing, and prescribed fire. Previous thinning and prescribed fire efforts were instrumental in preventing the loss of homes at Black Butte Ranch in the 2002 Cache Mountain and 2008 GW wildfires.

Please Excuse Our Smoke

Some smoke in the air, while inconvenient, is a sign that important restoration work is occurring. 

Fire professionals minimize the amount and duration of smoke impacts from prescribed fires by burning when:

1) Light winds will blow smoke away from urban areas;
2) The prescribed fire area will burn completely and not smolder for long periods;
3) Following federal and state requirements; and
4) Working closely with state meteorologists and smoke forecasters.

Typically, prescribed fire smoke impacts only last a few hours, often at night or early morning hours before most people are awake.

Smoke from wildfires, on the other hand, may last for days or weeks and the air quality impacts can be significant.

Sustaining Our Forests

Prescribed fire helps ensure we have a beautiful forest to live near, to play and work in, and to provide the many benefits we care about.

Without fire’s influence on this landscape, our fire-adapted ecosystems are less healthy in the face of fire, drought, insects, and disease. This can lead to loss of opportunities for recreation and tourism, leave our communities at greater risk to wildfire, reduce our forest’s natural ability to absorb and store carbon, effect habitat for a diversity of wildlife, decrease the resilience of the ecosystem to the effects of climate change and drought, decrease water quality, and increase potential for flooding.

Our Forests Are Resilient

Recently burned forests recover rapidly from prescribed fires, becoming healthier and more resilient to future wildfires.

The native plants and animals of Central Oregon are well adapted to fire, with different species requiring forests in different stages of development to thrive. Fire creates habitat that is important for some species, such as the black-backed woodpecker. Fire recycles nutrients and stimulates new growth of grasses and shrubs, providing habitat and food for a diversity of wildlife.

For more information, please contact Jeff Amaral, Natural Resources JeffA@bendparksandrec.org or (541) 706-6202.