BEND, Ore. - It may be winter, but that doesn't mean wildfires aren't on the minds of Bend Park and Recreation District staff, as two fire fuel reduction projects are planned for this month.
"Now is a great time to be proactive with wildfire prevention," said Sasha Sulia, the park district's natural resources manager.
"With over 2,600 acres of parks and open spaces, it's important we prepare ahead of fire season and properly manage the district's properties to reduce the risk of wildfires and increase wildfire protection to the adjacent land and homeowners. With low temperatures and high moisture content, winter is a perfect season for fire fuel reduction."
The first fire fuel reduction project is scheduled for the Rim Rock Natural Area along Skyline Road between 17th Street and Mt. Washington Drive in northwest Bend.
Covering 15 acres, the project includes small tree removal (mostly western juniper) and bitterbrush. Heart of Oregon Corps, a non-profit organization providing job skills, education and stewardship for local young people, was awarded the project through competitive bid process. Supervised crews of local young adults will perform the work, remove material from the site and ensure a safe work area during the project.
"Local partnerships along with our commitment to serving young adults in our community through a "work, earn, and learn" model have helped us build a strong working relationship with the District," said Allan Capp, program director for the Heart of Oregon Corps. "This project serves the needs of park and trail management, the neighborhood and the future of the local young adults in our program. Everybody benefits."
Work will begin Monday and is estimated to take two weeks. The West Bend Trail runs through the natural area and signs will be posted notifying users of the work. The trail may be temporarily closed for short periods to deal with tree removal.
The second project is at the Shevlin Conservation Easement - 43 acres between Shevlin Park and the Shevlin Commons neighborhood in northwest Bend.
Contracted with Cascade Brush Removal, the work includes mostly shrub mowing, as well as some small tree removal. The project is to begin Monday, January 26th and estimated to take two weeks. No closures are anticipated, but signs will be located at area trailheads notifying users of the work.
For additional information on fire fuel reduction at Bend Park and Recreation District, contact Sasha Sulia, Natural Resources Manager at (541) 706-6203.
For additional information on Heart of Oregon Corps programs that serve 16-24 year old young people across Central Oregon, call (541) 633-7834. Young people can apply online at www.heartoforegon.org