BEND, Ore. - The Deschutes National Forest and the Upper Deschutes River Coalition signed an agreement this week to work cooperatively on fuels reduction work within the 26 neighborhoods and communities that make up the Upper Deschutes River Coalition area.
Significantly, the agreement will allow fuel reduction work to occur both on private lands and national forest lands, recognizing that private land fuel treatments are as important as public land treatments to prevent the effects of a large wildfire.
The UDRC will provide funding and volunteers for work on the private lands and the Forest Service will provide expertise in fuels management planning and implementation.
The Forest Service will provide financial assistance, skilled workforce and specialized equipment for activities like brush mowing, prescribed burning, hazard tree falling and ladder fuel reduction thinning that the UDRC does not have.
"The coalition has been a partner with the USFS on hazardous fuel reduction work since 2005. We value their ideas and partnership. We look forward to many more years of working together to improve the health of our rivers and forests," said Jerry Hubbard, vice president of the Upper Deschutes River Coalition.
This agreement is the first of its kind in Central Oregon; however, the Deschutes National Forest has worked with private landowners on fuels management projects in the past.
One significant project occurred on private lands along Skyliner Road in Bend, which allowed for safe staging of emergency equipment during the Two Bulls Fire in June of this year.
The UDRC is a non-profit corporation comprised of 26 neighborhoods and communities dispersed amongst the forested lands of the Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District on the Deschutes National Forest. The UDRC was formed in 2003 to enable communities along the Upper Deschutes River to work together to resolve natural resource issues in a sensitive, fire-prone area.