Take time to learn the problems with southwest Oregon’s forests and some recommended solutions. The linked materials below were created with SOFRC and its partners and suggest steps toward making the forests more resilient against wildfire, drought and overcrowding.

Forest Restoration in the Rogue Basin

Increasingly, wildfires threaten forests in the Rogue Basin, putting communities, unique natural places, and resources at risk. A new, collaborative plan aims to address the risk while promoting economic vitality and restoring the landscape that we all depend on. This story map takes you through the lands involved, the people and public agencies working toward solutions, and how the different partners are learning to work together toward making the forests healthier and more productive.

Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy

SOFRC’s partners developed the Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy (RBS) targeting careful thinning and controlled burning on 1 million acres across the 4.6 million acre Rogue Basin. This strategy tiers to the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy by working across all lands to restore resilient landscapes, promote fire adapted communities, and improve opportunities for safe and effective wildfire response.

The Rogue Basin Strategy protects complex forest, optimizes wildfire risk mitigation, promotes diverse and enduring habitats, and supports a predictable supply of ecosystem services. With full implementation, the Rogue Basin Strategy is expected to reduce overall wildfire risk by 70% and risk to homes by 50% relative to business as usual. Thinning on warm ridges and midslopes actually reduces wildfire risk to high quality Northern Spotted Owl habitat by 47%.

Implementing the strategic mechanical treatments on federal lands could cost $30 million annually for 20 years. This work would produce 83 million board feet of merchantable timber every year, meeting annual timber targets for the federal agencies. It would also generate 1,700 direct and indirect jobs, $65 million in local wages, and produce $260 million in local economic output.

The  Rogue Basin Strategy describes an all lands approach for a shared landscape and shared responsibility for stewardship. The Strategy has been embraced by the Rogue Valley Integrated Fire Plan (online storyboard) as a framework for prioritizing hazard reduction project and guiding funding. Success depends on transparency based in community engagement, workforce training, education, and multiparty monitoring.

Regional and local controls on historical fire regimes of dry forests and woodlands in the Rogue River Basin

Fire regimes structure plant communities worldwide with regional and local factors, including anthropogenic fire management, influencing fire frequency and severity. Forests of the Rogue River Basin in Oregon, USA, are both productive and fire-prone due to ample winter precipitation and summer drought; yet management in this region is strongly influenced by forest practices that depend on fire exclusion. Regionally, climate change is increasing fire frequency, elevating the importance of understanding historically frequent-fire regimes.

Fire-scars show that fires in the Rogue Basin were frequent and regular until disrupted in the 1850s through 1910s, corresponding with forced displacement of Native Americans and Euro-American settlement.

Stand-scale fire histories in the Klamath, southern Cascades, and northern Sierra Nevada ecoregions resemble Rogue River Basin stand-scale fire histories. Across dry mixed conifer, yellow pine, and mixed evergreen forests, fire return intervals converged on 8 years. Moist mixed conifer and red fir forests exhibited 13-year fire return intervals. Across ecoregions, fire periodicity was weakly correlated with climatic water deficit, but well-modeled by elevation, precipitation, and temperature. These data highlight the need for decadal fire and burning outside of the contemporary fire season for forest restoration and climate adaptation in the dry forests of the Rogue Basin.