Crane spot fire

Heavy winds that blew on multiple days as the Crane Fire burned caused additional spot fires that propelled the blaze. A grant awarded to the Lake County All Lands Resources Initiative will help treat the landscape to prevent intense wildfires.

Lake County All Lands Restoration Initiative (LCALRI) is one of only eight new projects selected to be funded by a grant from the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, according to information released last week by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. LCALRI will be awarded $1,507,943 for the 2021 fiscal year to make the landscape more resilient and better able to withstand threats from severe wildfires which have become more common in the area.

Lake County All Lands Restoration Initiative encompasses a 402,400-acre landscape located 6 miles north of Lakeview; the land is important to the community for recreation, timber production, and grazing resources.

Numerous agencies have partnered to bring the project’s objectives to fruition: Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State University Extension, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Lake County Resources Initiative, and Lake County Cooperative Weed Management Area.

“Due to past management practices and fire suppression, there is a need to modify forest structure to reduce the risk of wildfire and improve forest health,” a project description on the Natural Resources Conservation Service website details.

“The desired landscape-level outcome is to create a resilient fire adapted landscape, while mitigating the threat of high severity wildfire to dry forests, wildlife habitat, water quality, and surrounding communities,” it explains.

Partners in the project have outlined a series of actions necessary to meet their goals – engaging with private landowners, completing silvicultural treatments, reintroducing fire, and incorporating noxious weed prevention and treatment.

Reducing the instance of wildfire on the landscape will require landowners to apply targeted forestry management practices on their land, such as thinning, hazardous fuel treatments, fire breaks, and other systems.

“Benefits to local communities include increased knowledge, sustaining and contributing to forestry sector jobs through restoration activities, and maintaining a healthy forest for multiple use,” the project description states.

Collaboration will occur through the Klamath-Lake Forest Health Partnership (KLFHP).

The Joint Chief’s Landscape Restoration Partnership is a collaboration between USDA’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve the health of landscapes where public forests and grasslands connect to privately-owned lands.

Through the Partnership, the two agencies are restoring landscapes, reducing wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protecting water quality and enhancing wildlife habitat, the program’s website notes.

The partnership began in 2014, and each year the agency selects new three-year projects.

Funding for 37 projects includes $13 million for eight new projects and $33.3 million to complete work on 29 projects previously selected in 2019 and 2020, according to the USDA.

Agricultural producers and forest landowners interested in a project to mitigate wildfire risk should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn if their land is eligible. Lakeview’s National Resources Conservation Service center is located at 17612 Hwy 395 and can be reached by calling (541) 947-2367.

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