Prescribed fire. As part of two wetland restoration projects,
a total of 37 acres of degraded vernal pool habitat was burned in early
June 2003. Prescribed fire is one of the strategies used to assist in
the recovery of native plant communities in and around vernal pool wetlands.
The use of fire increases the functional value of these wetland areas
by removing accumulated thatch and encouraging more diversity in plants.
One 12-acre restoration site is located on the Denman Wildlife Management
Area just north of Medford, Oregon. The area was traditionally used
to store cut logs and is now managed by the Oregon Department of Fish
and Wildlife. The site is being re-established as compensatory mitigation
for the recent runway extensions and safety upgrades at Rogue Valley
International-Medford Airport expansion project.
Restoring the natural balance. After
burning to remove unwanted invasive species, the topography of the
site was restored with a backhoe and a bladed tractor.
light equipment was used to avoid damaging the hardpan layer located
below the vernal pools. The site will be seeded with native vegetation
in the fall of 2003, using a range drill and broadcast seeding methods.
Establishing an "outside laboratory." A
second, 25-acre site is designated as a conservation area for the
new Jackson County School District #9 elementary and middle schools
in White City, Oregon. The site was carefully burned to remove invasive
species and is scheduled to have a small amount (about 2 acres) of
topography restored. The
entire area will then be fenced and posted with informational and
educational signage. Students will be involved in monitoring and documenting
changes as part of the school's Arts and Sciences curriculum. The
site will act as an outside laboratory for students and
will serve as open space for the community.
Minimizing harsh impacts. Vernal pool
fairy shrimp, large-flowered woolly meadowfoam, and Cooks lomatium
have been documented at this site. The prescribed fire and restoration
efforts were scheduled at a time of year that would avoid and minimize
adverse impacts to these federally-listed species.
Collaboration of effort. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
is working side by side with other community partners - the airport,
the school district, the consultant, state and local agencies, and interested
private citizens - to achieve success in this restoration effort.
The prescribed fire was coordinated with the Oregon Department of Environmental
Quality, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Jackson County
Fire District #3, David Evans and Associates, and Eagle Pass Reforestation,
Jackson County School District #9