SALEM — A new video produced by the Oregon Department of Forestry aims to help family forest landowners learn what to do to reforest their property after a wildfire. The 7-minute video draws on the experience of ODF Stewardship Forester Jana Peterson and private Forestry Consultant Lane Parry in helping Baker County forest landowners after the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire of 2015. The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT0qoYmBdK0&t=139s
That fire was one of 7,436 that have burned on lands protected by ODF over the past seven years. Since 2013, wildfires have burned almost 34,000 acres of non-industrial, privately owned forestland in Oregon protected by ODF.
“A wildfire can be devastating to landowners both emotionally and economically,” according to Family Forestland Coordinator Ryan Gordon with ODF. “When trees burn, beloved forest scenery around a home can turn to charred snags. Typically, those burned trees also represent a loss of income a landowner was depending on for retirement or to send kids or grandkids to college.”
Gordon said the video explains how local ODF stewardship foresters can help landowners find the resources and answers about what to do after a wildfire.
“It usually starts with helping landowners develop a restoration plan to achieve their goals,” said Gordon.
He said salvage logging should be carefully planned so it not only meets landowner objectives and helps restore water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat but also fulfills legal requirements. For example Oregon Forest Practices Act requires notification, reforestation, tree retention, and stream and wetland protection on all salvage operations.
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If timber is salvaged after a wildfire, landowners normally have to replant within two years, said Gordon. “However, reforestation is not required on lands with unproductive soils,” said Gordon. “These are defined as those not capable of growing at least 20 cubic feet of wood per acre each year.”
Gordon said that if a large wildfire makes seedlings scarce, ODF may be able to extend the replanting deadline for impacted landowners or approve modified stocking levels. “Always check with your local ODF stewardship forester to see if and how rules are being modified or if natural regeneration may be allowed to meet reforestation requirements.
Gordon gives these other simple tips to forest landowners looking to recover after a wildfire.
- Assess damage. Smaller fires, burning only brush and small trees, may not require restoration. More intense fires that consume larger trees and underbrush, and damage soil may require restoring soil, grass, and trees.
- Create a restoration plan. Determine short-term and long-term goals for restoring your property and make plans to achieve them. A local ODF stewardship forester can provide information about:
- Salvage harvesting and clean-up
- Timber production
- Grazing land
- Stream health
- Soil productivity
- Fish and wildlife habitat
- Look into assistance grants. Find out if your planned timber salvage is eligible for financial assistance before starting work. Financial assistance is limited and not all salvage operations are eligible. The process is often time consuming, so don’t delay.
- Act quickly on your plan. Action right after a fire can help you better achieve your goals. For example, quickly establishing grasses and trees will help prevent unwanted weeds and brush.