Ayla Adkins/The Broadside

Currently, in Central Oregon, we are lucky enough not to have any close contact with wildfires this season, but Oregon as a whole has not been so fortunate. Due to the landscape surrounding our community, we need to take extra precautions in keeping our environment happy and healthy.

Wildfires come in all severities, sizes, and levels of positivity. Yes, positive! Surface fires and control burns can be great for the environment by releasing seed pods, clearing overgrowth, killing diseases and harmful insects, and even providing nutrients for the next generation. These types of fires create healthy forests that have low amounts of latter fuels.

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Ron Boldenow, a Central Oregon Community College professor, agreed that certain types of burns will benefit the environment and agreed that the government should increase the number of prescribed control burns in certain areas within the state.

“Yes, in appropriate areas on federal, state, and private lands, (the government should prescribe more burns). Not just for fuels reduction, but also for the other ecological benefits of fire on the landscape. The appropriate use of fire depends on the vegetation type, the other vegetation management efforts, and the landowner’s objectives.”

Control burns are an essential part of keeping our forests productive and healthy. Especially since Boldenow did mention that “We live in a fire-dependent ecosystem and we are not going to eliminate wildland fire on the landscape.” So this makes prescribed burning even more crucial.

However, having more prescribed burns is not the be-all and end-all in fighting wildfires. Boldenow also suggests a mix of cutting and prescribed burning, which in his view, will help reduce fuel in our forests.

“We are not going to cut or burn our way out of this problem, but rather it is going to take a concerted effort using both of these methods to reduce the fuels build up in many of our forests.”

Keeping our community’s land healthy will have to be a constant effort that will need improvement as science within forest management develops. Hopefully, Ron Boldenow’s answers have provided you with a better understanding of how our high desert landscape works and what it needs to create a more beautiful Central Oregon.

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