SHERWOOD, Oregon – During the month of either September or October, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge managers are planning a prescribed fire to restore 52-acres of wet prairie habitat. All refuge trails will be closed to visitors during the prescribed fire. Fire activity may be visible from Highway 99 and residents of Sherwood may notice smoke from the prescribed fire. The refuge will update its website with the most up-to-date information about the prescribed fire and what day it will take place.
Refuge managers work with fire management specialists to plan each prescribed fire to ensure safety and maximize its effectiveness for both habitat and wildlife. “Our priority is safety for people, wildlife and resources during this prescribed fire,” said Rebecca Gómez Chuck, Refuge Manager for the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Prescribed fire is an important conservation tool at the refuge and an essential part of the long-term strategy to improve habitat for native plants and wildlife.
Before any prescribed fire takes place, refuge managers work together to create a prescribed fire plan, a detailed prescription for where, when and how a fire will be used to restore habitat. This includes strict safety measures, such as a pre- and post- burn monitoring plan, identifying the ideal weather and wind conditions for the prescribed fire to take place, and tracking the air quality in the area. Because of the important role weather plays, managers identify a burn window – a specific length of time during which a prescribed fire might take place. The official day of the fire is not set until a day or few days before to ensure optimum conditions for the prescribed fire.
The refuge often works with other fire management professionals from Tribal, state, local, and federal partners. “We are grateful for our partners support restoring habitat and protecting our community,” said Chuck. “During past prescribed fire activities, the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Rond, the State of Oregon and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue have all provided support.”
Many habitats, plants, and even wildlife evolved to depend on periodic, low intensity fires to thrive. Conservation managers can mimic those natural events using prescribed fires. The right kind of fire, applied safely, is a vital element for sustaining healthy habitat and preventing wildfires. The prescribed fire at the refuge is expected to increase the amount and diversity of native plant species, improving habitat for native wildlife. People who have questions about the fire are encouraged to call the refuge at (503) 625-5944.
Over 200 species of birds rely on the refuge, as well as deer, river otters, newts, and other animals that call the refuge home. Visitors can enjoy viewing wildlife from a year-round trail that meanders through wetlands and oak woodland. In addition, there are year-round educational programs and opportunities at the refuge.
Thanks to the efforts of local residents, the refuge was established in 1992 to protect some of the most diverse and abundant habitat remaining in the Tualatin River floodplain.
Downloadable photos and video of the refuge: http://ow.ly/Ibty50L7s9c
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit https://www.fws.gov/about/region/pacific and connect with us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube.