Eugene Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Eugene Record of Decision

Eugene District Resource Management Plan Table of Contents:

- Tables

- Maps

- Appendices

Fire/Fuels Management


Objectives

Provide appropriate fire suppression responses to wildfires that will help meet resource management objectives and minimize the risk of large-scale, high-intensity wildfires.

Use prescribed fire to meet resource management objectives. This will include but not be limited to fuels management for wildfire hazard reduction, restoration of desired vegetation conditions, management of habitat, management of fire dependent/adapted species, and silvicultural treatments.

Adhere to smoke management/air quality standards of the Clean Air Act and State Implementation Plan for prescribed burning.

Continue fire suppression strategies to provide protection of life and property, and the safety of fire fighting personnel.

Determine the role of fire at the landscape level. Identify fire regime(s), protection standards required to meet resource objectives, the effects of fire exclusion, and the need to use prescribed fire. Minimize the impacts of wildfire suppression actions.

Develop landscape objectives for coarse woody debris, down logs, green tree retention, and snags, consistent with the natural role of fire and protection standards for each land allocation unit.

Identify the appropriate suppression responses to wildfires based on land use allocation objectives.

Land Use Allocations

None specifically for fire/fuels management.

Management Actions/Direction - General

Apply the management actions/direction in the Special Status and SEIS Special Attention Species section.

Address Fire/Fuels Management for all land use allocations as part of watershed analysis and project planning. This will include determinations of the role of fire and the risk of large-scale, high intensity wildfires at the landscape level.

Describe the need to use prescribed fire or other fuel management treatments to reduce fuel hazards and the risk of large-scale, high-intensity fire, while maintaining coarse woody debris, down logs, green tree retention, and snags consistent with the natural role of fire and protection standards for each land allocation unit.

Coordinate fire management activities in Rural Interface Areas with local governments, agencies, and landowners. During watershed analysis, identify additional factors that may affect hazard reduction goals. Minimize the impacts of wildfire suppression actions.

Management Actions/Direction for Riparian Reserves

Design fuel treatment and fire suppression strategies, practices, and activities to meet Aquatic Conservation Strategy objectives and to minimize disturbance of riparian ground cover and vegetation. Strategies will recognize the role of fire in ecosystem function and identify those instances where fire suppression or fuel management activities could be damaging to long-term ecosystem function.

Locate incident bases, camps, helibases, staging areas, helispots, and other centers for incident activities outside of Riparian Reserves. If the only suitable location for such activities is within the Riparian Reserve, an exemption may be granted following a review and recommendation by a resource advisor. The advisor will prescribe the location, use conditions, and rehabilitation requirements.

Minimize delivery of chemical retardant, foam, or other additives to surface waters. An exception may be warranted in situations where overriding immediate safety imperatives exist or, following a review and recommendation by a resource advisor, when an escape would cause more long-term damage.

Design prescribed burn projects and prescriptions to contribute to attainment of Aquatic Conservation Strategy objectives.

Immediately establish an emergency team to develop a rehabilitation treatment plan needed to attain Aquatic Conservation Strategy objectives whenever Riparian Reserves are significantly damaged by a wildfire or a prescribed fire burning outside prescribed parameters.

Allow some natural fires to burn under prescribed conditions. This decision will be based on additional analysis and planning.

Rapidly extinguishing smoldering coarse woody debris and duff should be considered to preserve these ecosystem elements.

Locate and manage water drafting sites (e.g., sites where water is pumped to control or suppress fires) to minimize adverse effects on riparian habitat and water quality as consistent with Aquatic Conservation Strategy objectives.

Management Actions/Direction for Late-Successional Reserves

Emphasize maintaining late-successional habitat in wildfire suppression plans.

Use minimum impact suppression methods for fuels management in accordance with guidelines for reducing risks of large-scale disturbances.

During fire suppression activities, consult with an interdisciplinary team to ensure that habitat damage is minimized.

Until a fire management plan is completed for a Late-Successional Reserve or group of reserves, suppress wildfire to avoid loss of habitat and to maintain future management options. Some natural fires may then be allowed to burn under prescribed conditions.

Prepare a specific fire management plan prior to any habitat manipulation activities in Late-Successional Reserves. Specify how hazard reduction and other prescribed fire applications meet the objectives of the Late-Successional Reserve. Until the plan is approved, proposed activities will be subject to review by the Regional Ecosystem Office.

Apply prescribed fire in a manner that retains the amount of coarse woody debris determined through watershed analysis.

Consider rapidly extinguishing smoldering coarse woody debris and duff.

Management Actions/Direction for Adaptive Management Areas

Explore and support opportunities to research the role and effects of fire management on ecosystem functions.

Emphasize fire/fuels management cooperation across agency and ownership boundaries.

Follow fire/fuels management actions/direction in this RMP until Adaptive Management Area plans are completed and approved.

Use accepted wildfire suppression strategies and tactics and conform with specific agency policy.

Management Actions/Direction for Matrix

Plan and implement prescribed fire treatments to minimize:

  • Intensive burning, unless appropriate for certain specific habitats, communities, or stand conditions

  • Consumption of litter and coarse woody debris

  • Disturbance of soil and litter that may occur as a result of heavy equipment operation

  • The frequency of treatments

Management Actions/Direction for All Land Use Allocations

Wildfire Suppression - Minimize the direct negative impacts of wildfire suppression on ecosystem management objectives.

Respond to all wildfires by taking appropriate suppression responses. In most cases, responses will consist of aggressive initial attack to extinguish fires at the smallest size possible.

For wildfires hat escape initial attack, perform a Wildfire Situation Analysis to develop a suppression strategy to evaluate the damage induced by suppression activities compared to expected wildfire damage. Suppression tactics will consider:

  • Public and firefighting personnel safety

  • Protection of specific attributes of each land use allocation

  • Coordination of wildfire suppression activities to avoid causing adverse impacts on Federal and nonfederal lands

  • Appropriate use of suppression tools such as aircraft, dozers, pumps, and other mechanized equipment, and clear definitions of any restrictions relating to their use

  • The potential adverse affects on meeting ecosystem management objectives

  • Protection of structural components such as snags, duff, and coarse woody debris to the extent possible.

Fuels Management (including Hazard Reduction) Using Prescribed Fire - Modify fuel profiles in order to lower the potential of fire ignition and rate of spread; protect and support land use allocation objectives by lowering the risk of high intensity, stand-replacing wildfires; and adhere to smoke management and air quality standards.

Reduce hazards through methods such as prescribed burning, mechanical or manual manipulation of forest vegetation and debris, removal of forest vegetation and debris, and combinations of these methods. Hazard reduction plans will be developed through an interdisciplinary team approach and will consider the following:

  • Safety of fire fighting personnel

  • Identification of levels of coarse woody debris and snags of adequate size and in sufficient quantities to meet habitat requirements of species of concern

  • Developing a fuel profile that supports land allocation objectives

  • Reducing the risk of wildfire in a cost efficient manner

  • Interagency cooperation to assure cost effective fuel hazard reduction across the landscape

  • Adherence to smoke management and air quality standards

  • Consistency with objectives for land use allocations

  • Maintenance or restoration of ecosystem processes or structure

  • The natural role of fire in specific landscapes, current ecosystem needs, and wildfire hazard analysis included in the fire management plan

Management of forest fuels is important for preventing and controlling wildfire. In managing forest lands this involves the manipulation of the forest fuels (vegetative materials) either by mechanical or manual methods, or through prescribed fire. Fuels treatment is an especially important consideration in the Rural Interface Areas where forest fuels are in close proximity to private dwellings, businesses, and other structures. Mechanical and manual methods would be used in these areas and in areas where air quality considerations require reduced smoke emissions. Partial entry of prescribed fire may be initiated into natural stands where severe natural fuels buildup would contribute to high intensity stand destroying wildfire.

Prescribed Fire Use for Ecosystem Maintenance and Restoration - The use of prescribed fire will be based on the risk of high intensity wildfire and the associated cost and environmental impacts of using prescribed underburning to meet protection, restoration, and maintenance of critical stands that are currently susceptible to large-scale catastrophic wildfire.

Underburning will be reintroduced in areas over a period of time to create a mosaic of stand conditions. Treatments should be site-specific because some species with limited distributions are fire intolerant. The use of prescribed burning will be based on an interdisciplinary evaluation. Funding authority, therefore, must reflect the range of objectives identified for using fire under ecosystem management.

Use prescribed fire to manage seral stage diversity through the development of fire resistant stand mosaics by timing the application of fire (e.g., every 5 to 10 years).

Develop project level prescribed fire plans using an interdisciplinary team approach. Plans will address (1) adherence to smoke management and air quality standards; (2) meeting stated objectives for the land use allocations; (3) maintaining or restoring ecosystem processes or structure; and (4) the role of natural fire in specific landscapes, current ecosystem needs, and wildfire hazard analysis included in the fire management plan.

Prescribed fire is used to emulate the natural role of fire to achieve resource objectives for wildlife enhancement, plant species maintenance, forest land biodiversity, and site preparation. Prescribed underburning some proportion of homogeneous plant communities would be dependent on the type and amount of complexity that would be needed for any one plant community. The types of plant communities that may be targeted for underburning would be stands where extensive or connected old growth sites exist or where 50 to 80 year old contiguous monotypic stands are located in order to promote more diversity or heterogeneity. Fire would be the preferred method of disturbance for biological reasons, but other methods of disturbance may produce similar results, i.e., swamper burning or manipulation by machine.

In order to assure that resource objectives such as wildlife, and botanical species maintenance are met and that forest land biodiversity elements are perpetuated, it will be necessary for the Eugene District to employ applications of natural cycle related cool fires such as in understory burning. Understory burning is defined here as in under or near conifer, deciduous, and brush species.

There are approximately 200,000 acres of the District land base that could lend themselves to fire entry under prescription. It is reasonable to assume that at least an annual average of 700 acres of understory related burning may be necessary to meet resource objectives. This would assume an approximate 30 to 50-year rotation cycle on some sites throughout the 200,000 acre land base. It is not possible nor desirable to burn every acre on a 30 to 50-year cycle. Some sites would not benefit positively from the entry of either prescribed fire or wildfire. However, many would. Resource specialists must develop specific resource objectives and develop extensive activity plans to determine specific sites where benefits can occur. The need for prescribed fire varies for each resource. For example, botanical enhancement fires may need to be introduced on an annual basis on some sites. On other sites, such as under old growth stands, the rotational burning could be up to 60 plus years depending on the particular site, soil structure, or other mixed plant communities. As specific area studies are developed, the need for fire applications upon a particular site will be clearly defined and activity plans developed accordingly.

Factors other than ecological needs will also determine how many acres can be burned. The 2 most important factors are air quality and budget constraints. Air quality considerations are established through regulation and the Oregon Smoke Management Plan. Budget considerations are based on fiscal year considerations.

There has been a target established for the westside of Oregon to reduce total prescribed fire emissions by 50 percent of the baseline emissions by the year 2000. The Eugene District met the 50 percent reduction in 1991. In order to ensure that this reduction is maintained, it is not planned to introduce prescribed understory burning unless all air quality considerations can be met. It is reasonable to assume at this time that an average prescribed fire regime (see Table 21) can be implemented so understory burning does not add or exceed established air quality standards.

The following figures represent past, present, and estimated future emissions release from burning practices on the Eugene District. The emission factor measurements are based on the latest research methods available. It is estimated that the hand pile burn emission estimates may be approximately 50 percent less than indicated on the emissions tables. The information presented in Tables 19, 20, and 21 clearly shows that the Eugene District can meet the emission standards established for the year 2000, treat available sites for reforestation, and target towards 700 acres of prescribed burning to help meet resource objectives for biodiversity, wildlife, and forest fuel hazard abatement.

Table 19 - Average Emission Factors (lb. PM emission per ton of fuel consumed)

Type of Burn   Particulate Matter(PM)
Broadcast   34 lbs/ton
Tractor Pile   20
Handpile   12
Underburn   29

Table 20 - Average Consumption Rates (in tons per acre)

Broadcast Burning    
  Baseline (1976-1979)   63.6
  Current   28.0
  Pile Burning    
  Tractor Pile   25.0
  Hand Pile   12.0
       
Underburning   14.0

Table 21 - Acres by Treatment Method

    Baseline   PRMP
Method:        
Tractor Pile   65   360
Broadcast   2,238   190
Underburn   0   550
Handpile   0   320
Consumption:        
Total Tons   143,962   25,860
PM Emission:        
Total Tons   2,436   370

Fuels Management for Hazard Reduction - Modify fuel profiles in order to lower the potential of fire ignition and rate of spread; protect and support land allocation objectives by lowering the risk of high intensity, stand-replacing wildfires; and adhere to smoke management and air quality standards.

Reduce hazards through methods such as prescribed burning, mechanical or manual manipulation of forest vegetation and debris, removal of forest vegetation and debris, and combinations of these methods. Hazard reduction plans will be developed through an interdisciplinary team approach and will consider the following:

  • Providing for the safety of firefighting personnel

  • Identification of levels of coarse woody debris and snags of adequate size in sufficient quantities to meet habitat requirements of species of concern

  • Developing a fuel profile that supports land allocation objectives and seeking a balance between reducing the risk of wildfire and the cost efficiency consistent with meeting land allocation objectives.