Urban sustainability and fire danger awareness

Wildland-Urban Interface

The Wildland-Urban Interface is the area where houses and wildland vegetation meet or intermingle, and where wildfire problems are most pronounced. The Upper Willamette SWCD provides education to urban landowners about fire danger awareness and how to live safely in wildland urban interface areas throughout Lane County. Please sign up for our newsletter to receive notifications about fire related events, technical assistance, and other resources.

2020 Holiday Farm Fire

The Holiday Farm Fire in 2020 caused great devastation throughout our District and along the McKenzie River. Igniting over Labor Day weekend in early September of 2020, it started west of McKenzie Bridge and quickly continued to burn through Blue River, Finn Rock, Nimrod, Vida, and Leaburg, mainly following the Oregon Highway 126 corridor. It burned for over one month and consumed more than 173,000 acres and 500 homes and offices. It was an incredibly unexpected and destructive event. Our aim is to work together to be prepared for future fire risks and build resilient and fire-resistant communities within our District.

Upper Willamette SWCD staff recognizes the resilience of the McKenzie watershed residents and landscape. Field staff conducting assessments witnessed the regrowth of native vegetation on severely burned soils. Over time, the burned landscape will regenerate with new growth of vegetation. Like the landscape, the District’s residents are adapting and recovering. The McKenzie River valley is resilient, and we are all working together to rebuild and recover this precious watershed.

The District is here to provide resources and assistance, and to support the health of our soil, water, and communities. Local conservation organizations, the public utility, and government agencies formed the Pure Water Partners program to protect and enhance riparian forest habitats on private lands in the McKenzie Sub-basin. We continue to work with our partners as we have for the past couple of years to assist in the rebuilding of the McKenzie River Valley.

Take a look at our Wildfire Resources page for more information and for assistance with rebuilding and recovery.

Helpful Resources for Lane County’s Urban Residents

Vision for Additional Funding

  • Hire a forestry technician to work with foresters and small woodlot owners in conservation planning. This technician would work closely with the NRCS and to determine best management practices for their forests & woodlots, understand current problems and provide potential solutions related to nutrient management, pest control & pesticide runoff, soil & sediment runoff, riparian plantings & buffer zones, among other sustainable forestry & agroforestry practices. The implementation of these solutions would be jointly funded through cost sharing between the district and landowners to leverage federal and NRCS funds.
    • Partners: NRCS, ODF
  • Reduce Fire Risk in the Wildland-Urban Interface. This program would be designed in partnership with the ODF to help homeowners create defensible spaces against fire around their houses. The district recognizes that the natural growth of vegetation around houses can get out of hand and the trimming or removal of big trees is daunting task for many homeowners. This program would help create plans for defensible space. We would send out staff members to evaluate the situation and draw up a plan of action and a working budget for a neighborhood or an individual homeowner. We provide lists of contractors, or we contract the work ourselves. We provide cost share for the execution of the work.
    • Partners: ODF, East Lane Forest Protection Association, watershed councils, others
  • Establish a grant program (or part of restoration program mentioned below) to fund the work of watershed councils, tribes, forest collaboratives, and other partners working to restore healthy landscapes and oak habitats and bring healthy (prescribed) fire back to the landscape (so that we can minimize the risk of catastrophic fire).
    • Partners: watershed councils, tribes, forest collaboratives, Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah, McKenzie River Trust, The Nature Conservancy, FUSEE, Mount Pisgah Arboretum, others