Crews set Eugene wetlands on fire - on purpose

Crews set Eugene wetlands on fire - on purpose

EUGENE, Ore. - Firefighters set the West Eugene Wetlands on fire this weekend.

The goal: mimic fire's natural role in the ecoystem to help threatened and endangered plant species.

The Eugene wetlands represent 1 percent of 1 percent of the original wetlands in Oregon.

"Without fire it would be a lot more difficult to get these plants to do what they do naturally," said Michael Mascari, public affairs officer with the Bureau of Land Management, "and any type of fire training that we can give our fire staffs is very valuable."

Controlled burns - sometimes called prescribed fires - provide safer environments for firefighter training than actual wildfires.

"It's a very dangerous job and it is very difficult," Mascari said, "but there is no better experience than to actually fight a live fire."

Fires like the one in the West Eugene wetland also help burn up fuels and prevent larger wildfires from happening.

BLM expects to do several more around the area before the end of the year.