OAKRIDGE, Ore. - Greg Wagenblast has seen his share of trouble in the hills surrounding Oakridge.
"The whole Oakridge area is considered a community at risk," said Wagenblast, district forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Another fire season is fast approaching in western Oregon. In places where rural forest lands meet homes around communities like Oakridge, the proximity of homes and fire can spark trouble.
Before the next big blaze can break out, state fire fighters are trying to head-off trouble.
Working with private land owners, firefighters have cleared out brush, dying trees and even low hanging limbs from live trees. About 70 acres near Oakridge have been treated by the safety program.
"They are trying to get the limbs about 6 to 8 feet off the ground; 10 feet off the ground," Wagenblast said.
This is a fuels reduction forest program, paid for by Federal economic recovery cash.
"The limbs being gone off the trees is going to help with the short flame lengths," says Wagenblast.
Many home owners in the Dunning Road area have signed on for the program.
"If we get a fire in here, the fire's not going to go racing up to that house and become a threat to that house," Wagenblast said. "If you look down through there, the dead trees have been removed."
The goal is not a zone devoid of vegetation. The goal is to reduce the amount of plant material on the ground that spreads fire - and the "ladder" fuels that help flames climb into the tops of the trees, causing some of the most catastrophic wildfire activity.
Wagenblast said about $70,000 worth of projects have been done this spring. He said that is a small investment now to help ensure he sees less trouble in the hills around Oakridge this summer. | More information about state forestry project