The Oregon Department of Forestry is funding gorse removal work in Curry County as part of $5 million it was granted in January by the Oregon Legislative Emergency Board for reducing wildfire risk across the state. Some $234,000 of the funding continues work started as a demonstration in 2019 to test using Oregon Department of Transportation’s contracted rock scalers to control gorse on steep slopes. ODOT, Curry Soil and Water Conservation District and Oregon State Parks worked together to conduct cut-stump treatment on the gorse north of Brookings along Highway 101 and nearby at Harris Butte in Harris Beach State Park.
The remainder of the Rainbow Rock cliff was treated in March 2021. In April, scalers will return to treat with herbicide the sprouts from the 2019 treatment at both Rainbow Rock and Harris Butte. Additional treatments are underway in Lone Ranch State Park and in the Elk River and Sixes River watersheds on various ownerships.
“The funds from the Emergency Board provide the state with an incredible opportunity to bring together public and private groups to complete some critical fuels mitigation work in advance of the 2021 fire season,” said Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty.
s“This is shared stewardship in action. When we work together, we can treat more acres across ownership boundaries and have a greater impact on fire resiliency in communities and forests throughout the state.”
Partners in the department’s efforts include forest collaboratives, watershed councils, the Northwest Youth Corps, OSU, private landowners, counties, federal agencies, and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.
After receiving the funds in January, ODF put out a call for proposals and received 93 applications totaling over $20 million. The 37 projects were chosen from among those applications. The projects rely on partnerships to improve community resilience to wildfire and restore and maintain healthy, resilient forests.
Some 35 projects involve direct treatments on the land. ODF and its partners will employ various fuel treatment methods ranging from ODF fuel crews, landowner cost shares and rebates and/or contracted equipment services. Among those in southern Oregon are projects to reduce highly flammable stands of gorse on the coast and treat fuels around Ashland, Gold Hill, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, Rogue River, Wimer and the Bear Creek Valley, three projects in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest, two in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and one in the Gilchrist State Forest.