THE APPLEGATE FIRE PLAN
A BRIEF BACKGROUND
The Applegate Fire Plan is simply going to be the compilation of all existing fire plans, data bases and reports into one strategic document that addresses the issues of fire protection, fire suppression, fuels reduction and emergency communications for the entire 500,000 acre Applegate River watershed. It will cover all land ownerships, private and public.
This sounds like a simple concept, a "no-brainer" to some. But, it hasn't been done before here in the Applegate and it needs to be! This newsletter will introduce you to the concepts of the Plan, the "partners", and why you will want to be involved. We will cover the "who," "what", "when," "where," "why," and "how" of the project (although not necessarily in that order). But first, a brief background on how this thing got started.
Most of you are aware of the tremendous wildfires of 2000, and the resulting National Fire Plan that was developed to try to mitigate the serious fire conditions throughout the West and Northwest. Parameters were set and huge amounts of funding opportunities were sent out to each state, to deal with localized problems and issues. Some dollars were for on-the-ground work and some were for planning purposes.
A team of BLM and US Forest Service employees met with members of our Applegate Partnership to talk about requesting funding to develop one fire management strategy for the entire watershed. The need for this had been under discussion for years. An initial proposal was submitted during the first round of funding in April, 2001, but was not chosen. The proposal was rewritten to include more detail and more community involvement, and was submitted under the Applegate Partnership's name in the second round in June. This time it worked! We learned in August that we had received partial funding for this planning project, so since then we have organized our troops or "partners" and we are surging forward. We're also applying for additional funding so that we can complete this project properly.
The Applegate Partnership will take the lead on this project: two members of their board of directors have contracted to be the project coordinators, to keep things rolling.
WHO IS IT?
This project is a joint effort by many "partners". We applied for funding as a group that included the Ashland and Grants Pass Resource Areas of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Applegate and Galice Ranger Districts of the US Forest Service (USFS), the Central Point and Grants Pass units of the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), the Applegate Valley Rural Fire District #9, the Grants Pass Rural/Metro Fire Department, the Applegate River Watershed Council, the Williams Volunteer Fire Department, the Williams Watershed Council, and the Applegate Partnership. Since we've begun work, we have added both Jackson and Josephine Counties' Departments of Emergency Management, Jackson County's GIS Services, Josephine County's Planning Office and their Department of Forestry, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the US Department of Fish and Wildlife.
So, this project, which we originally labeled the "Applegate Communities Collaborative Fire Protection Strategy" and which we are now calling simply, the "Applegate Fire Plan" - this project is about combining all existing data and plans into one piece of information that can address the whole watershed. One strategy that each of the agencies who might deal with fire in our valley can adopt, because it will fit all of the requirements that they have to deal with in their agency on a day-to-day basis.
We only need one more partner - the community! When we were writing this proposal, we talked to many local community groups, and we were pleased at the level of interest that we received with our initial concepts. Groups that we received letters of support from include the Upper Applegate Grange, Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association, Rogue Valley Council of Governments, the Society of American Foresters, Applegate Valley Community Forum, Rogue Forest Protective Association and the Greater Applegate Community Development Corporation.
But, in order for this Plan to be successful, we need the support and involvement of those people who own over 30% of the land in the Applegate. That's right, nearly one third of the land is owned by private landowners. We are counting on your involvement to make this a true watershed-wide project.
For more information contact
Applegate Partnership Board members:
Jack Shipley, 846-6917
Sandy Shaffer, 899-9541