by Romy Mortensen, Tree Farm Project Manager
A wonderful collaboration took place today between the The Tree Farm, LLC, Bend Park and Recreation District, and the US Forest Service. About 82 acres of private land in The Tree Farm was burned as part of a larger prescribed burn project for approximately 700 acres over a 2- 3 year period. Brush mowing, tree limbing, tree thinning and juniper tree removal have all taken place over the last several years on The Tree Farm land as an effort by the land owner to manage the land to be fire resilient. The prescribed burn was essentially the final effort in completing years of fire fuel mitigation and land management by the Miller family.
Over 36 fire professionals from USFS, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bend Fire Department, and The Nature Conservancy met at 9:00am for a project briefing. At the briefing all project leaders were introduced, the weather report was read and reviewed, and assignments and responsibilities confirmed. A black line (basically a test area that is burned to confirm the land responds appropriately to the fire and the wind is blowing in the right direction) was complete by 10:00am and shortly thereafter the line crew moved through the first block of land igniting brush and setting the prescribed burn in motion.
There was constant communication among the crew members reporting on the rate of the fire movement, the temperature and humidity, the wind, and other elements of the event that were necessary to communicate about. The effort was managed with extreme professionalism and organization.
It is vitally important that we learn to live with fire and become a fire adaptive community. Decades of deferred forest management and prescribed burning have left our forest lands extremely vulnerable to wildland fire. If private and public land owners can collaborate like was done today, our communities will be safer and our forests healthier for wildlife and human enjoyment. This is the essence of the Central Oregon Cohesive Strategy Initiative.