The City of Eugene Parks and Open Space has received an award of $157,400 from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Community Wildfire Assistance Program for fuels reduction projects and wildfire preparedness outreach.
Since 2015, BLM has awarded Parks and Open Space nearly $1 million in grant assistance. This grant money has supported fuels reduction projects on 1,250 acres in 20 Ridgeline and neighborhood natural area parks.
Projects remove dense and overgrown vegetation on parkland near residential development, businesses, schools and critical infrastructure. Fuels reduction improves public safety and decreases risks to property, biodiversity, and natural resources while also improving safety and ability of wildland firefighters to respond to a fire.
To date, fuels reduction projects have been focused in the densely wooded, large natural area parks of south Eugene’s Ridgeline Park System, and forested neighborhood natural areas including Skinner Butte and Morse Family Farm. With this recent award that work will continue, and Parks staff will also expand the program's reach to natural areas in west and north Eugene.
Recent wildfires at Skinner Butte and Moon Mountain show the value of fuels management in mitigating catastrophic wildfire risk. Fuels reduction projects in each park reduced the amount of long-burning material and ensured firefighters had better access to suppress and contain the fires.
In addition to ongoing vegetation management efforts, Parks and Open Space is committed to a multifaceted approach to wildfire prevention. Parks staff support training exercises for Eugene Springfield Fire within parks and natural areas to ensure effective emergency response strategies in case of a wildfire outbreak. Park Ambassadors and Park Resource Officers interact with park visitors and help enforce park rules aimed at minimizing fire risks, including the prohibition of fireworks, campfires, and smoking within parks.