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Thinning work by logging, forest service crews helps fight fires

The regular thinning and prescribed burns of undergrowth help fire crews battle wildfires during fire season.

Posted: Aug. 8, 2018 6:15 PM
Updated: Aug. 8, 2018 6:38 PM

CANYONVILLE, Ore. -- Logging and forest service crews play a big role year-round when it comes to fighting wildfires.

Those crews have been cutting and burning undergrowth for decades.

Doing so gets rid of the dead and dried out plants that fuel fires.

Kyle Reed with the Douglas Forest Protective Association said the Stouts Creek Fire in 2015 was a great example of how getting rid of that undergrowth can help slow down these fires.

“We had some projects up there on the Umpqua National Forest a couple years before where we were doing thinning in different places, and we were actually able to hold the fire in those areas, where it was moving quickly in other spots,” Reed said.

He said there’s a noticeable difference between thinned and overgrown areas.

“When you get in those spots where the fuels have been thinned down, you see a dramatic decrease in fire activity in those places, generally,” Reed said.

State Representative Gary Leif visited the South Umpqua fires recently and said crews there told him it made a difference on the Snowshoe Fire as well.

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“That was because in May they did these prescribed burns,” Leif said. "Any time that you can get rid of the fuel and the undergrowth, or cut the fuel out, as in thinning practices, you’re going to basically create fire resiliency.”

Ralph Huffman, co-owner of Huffman & Wright Logging, said the thinning is just part of what they do in the forests.

But he thinks everyone should be more aggressive about doing it.

“Whether it’s cutting it, increasing the thinning, they need to get more aggressive there,” Huffman said. “They need to get more aggressive with cleaning up some of the old growth, especially after a fire.”

Leif and Huffman said they believe these practices need to continue to expand to cut back on the growth and intensity of fires when they happen.

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