According to experts, their efforts could protect land and resources for generations to come.
The burns are conducted by the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project.
“This project isn’t just about reducing some fuels and doing a controlled burn, these forests are adapted to fire, they evolved with fire,” said Shane Jimerfield, Program Director of Lomakatsi.
The project which started in 2010, aims to protect wildlife habitat, Ashland’s water, and reduce the risk of wildfires.
“We can minimize the risk of fire… the severe fire in the summertime if it were to occur and get started in this watershed.”
The controlled burns were scheduled for this week because conditions were perfect.
“That happened yesterday, it’s been happening all week actually, we’ve had people up here burning.”
Tree overcrowding is a huge threat in this area. Historically for every acre, there were about 50 trees. Now, the average is about 180.
“And the Indigenous people also were a part of that. They used fire to manage these lands and we’re carrying that tradition forward.”
The U.S. Forest Service, City of Ashland, Lomakatsi Restoration Project and The Nature Conservancy are all working on the project together.”
The project covers 57,000 acres surrounding Ashland. Jimerfield said they aim to manage at least 25 percent of that, to better control fire behavior.
“About 20 percent now and by the project is over with we’ll be at 28 percent.”
7,600 acres of work will be completed over the 10-year scheduled project. Under current funding, the project will end in 2021.
Organizers said they will be conducting more burns this week, weather permitting.
If you would like to know more about their plans, visit ASHLANDWATERSHED.ORG.