During the month of September, the Rivers to Ridges partners will be undertaking controlled ecological burns at several West Eugene Wetlands sites. The City of Eugene’s Natural Resources team, with the assistance of the Eugene Fire and EMS Department (EFD), has planned controlled ecological burns at several City sites including Coyote Prairie, Dragonfly Bend, and two sites at Meadowlark Prairie. The burns planned at these sites are part of a much larger controlled ecological burn effort planned for prairies throughout the Willamette Valley in collaboration with partner organizations.
The Rivers to Ridges Partnership relies on controlled ecological burning as a restoration tool to protect valuable biological diversity in prairie and savanna ecosystems. Removal of standing dead vegetation also benefits the community by decreasing the chances of uncontrolled wildfire at the wildland-urban interface. City staff works hard to make sure the community is protected from potential negative impacts of fire. EFD and the City’s Natural Resources staff carefully assess weather conditions and burn only on days when the wind will blow smoke away from residential areas. The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency reviews the controlled burn plans each year, issuing a permit and conditions under which burns may proceed. City crews mow fuel breaks around the perimeter of each burn unit to prevent fire from traveling outside the planned burn area.
Finally, controlled ecological burns are managed by experienced and highly trained fire crews, including the Eugene Fire Department, who are working from detailed burn plans. These plans provide extensive prescriptions describing how to conduct the burn to provide the maximum protection for the community.
Additional controlled ecological burns may be performed by Rivers to Ridges partner agencies on lands elsewhere in the wetlands, including on lands owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah. Together these efforts will result in the enhancement and protection of many of the important natural areas enjoyed by the community. See the "Willamette Valley Prescribed Fire" Facebook page for short-notice burn information or contact Trevor Taylor, Natural Area Restoration supervisor at or 541-682-4888.