Fall burns planned near Box Canyon

Fall burns planned near Box Canyon

Chucksney Meadows burnThis fall, the McKenzie River and Middle Fork Ranger Districts will conduct prescribed burns designed to restore and maintain meadows near Box Canyon, located at milepost 31 on U.S. Forest Road 19 (Aufderheide Drive.) Because the timing of the burns is weather dependent, the burns will take place sometime between late September and late October.

Those conditions call for a warm, dry day with significant rain following that evening or the next day. Officials say the project will not cause any trail closures, however recreationists may want to avoid the area as smoke will be visible on the day it occurs.
“These conditions will allow us to meet the objectives of the burn while limiting firefighter exposure by letting rains extinguish the fire naturally,” Brenda Hallmark, Fuels Assistant Fire Management Officer with the McKenzie River Ranger District.
The prescribed burns will take place in the Grasshopper-Chucksney Ridge area, one of the few regions on the Willamette National Forest that has large, expansive meadows. The meadows provide critical habitat and forage for a variety of species, including big game like elk and deer, as well as pollinators and songbirds. Following decades of fire suppression, natural meadows like these are slowly being taken over by conifers and must be actively managed to be maintained.
The districts have conducted three burns in this area since 1980. The most recent was in 2007. This year, up to nine meadows, totaling 135 acres, will receive either first time treatments or repeats burns.
“Fire is a natural component of these meadow ecosystems. Prescribed burns provide a variety of benefits for the meadows,” said Hallmark. “It stimulates grasses and forbs (grassland herbs), removes small trees to maintain an open meadow habitat, encourages nutrient cycling and creates snags that are used by many different species.”
This project is partially funded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Oregon Hunters Association. For several years, the two organizations have held volunteer work parties to collect grass seed, which will be spread after the burns.
Another small restoration burn is planned near Melakwa Lake on the McKenzie River Ranger District, located near Scott Creek Road (Forest Service Road 2649), four miles east of Highway 126. The burns planned here will total nine acres and should not impact any recreation sites.
The prescribed burns are expected to be completed in one day for each area. As fire management must wait for the ideal weather conditions before burning, there will likely be short notice of the day of the burns. People planning on visiting the Chucksney/Grasshopper area between late September and late October and want to avoid the smoke, should call ahead to the McKenzie River Ranger District at 541.822.3381 or follow the twitter feed at www.twitter.com/willamettenf.

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.