Fire training helps Ashland watershed

ASHLAND, Ore. – Several miles up Granite Street and into the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest, firefighters of all skill levels are coming together for the annual Ashland Prescribed Training Exchange, or “TREX” for short.

It’s a two-week controlled burn exercise that attracts firefighters from across the country.

John Bailey is an operations trainee from Maine. He said, “This is an amazing opportunity for folks in varying levels of skills and ability to get out and do positive work on the ground for a community that really needs the support to be healthy and protected”

The purpose of the program is to get people with high credentials mixed in with those who are going out on a fire for the first time. But setting these controlled burns also helps the Ashland Watershed.

Fire Manager Amanda Stamper  explained, “We plan burns across the Rogue Basin, but the priority is in this watershed to protect the drinking water supply for the community of Ashland as well as burning fuels that could be prone to creating wildfire conditions in the urban interface that would not be very manageable in the wildfire season.”

From 68 participants 10 years ago to nearly 500 this year, the program has grown significantly. And based on the experience of first-time goers, it doesn’t look like that trend will end anytime soon.

This is Yvette Leecy’s first year participating at TREX. She said, “It’s everybody’s dream too, ya know, to help one another. It’s just really a healthy environment and I feel honored to be a part of it. I am, I really am. It’s something that I wish everybody could have”

The Ashland TREX program started on Monday and will continue until next week.

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