Rehabilitation starts on areas burned by Douglas Complex fire

Tendrils of smoke may still be rising from some hot spots, but the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is already planning rehabilitation efforts on portions of the more than 18,000 acres burned on its Medford District this summer by the Douglas Complex fire.

"We're talking about rehabilitation for just the high-severity burned areas," stressed district spokesman Jim Whittington. "Like most fires, the Douglas Complex burned in a mosaic pattern.

"Quite a bit of the area had a low intensity burn or no burn at all," he explained. "That's just the whim of nature."

The agency is looking at both long-term soil stabilization as well as vegetation rehabilitation in some of the heavily burned areas, he said. Some timber salvage also is being contemplated, although the amount has not been determined, he added.

A burned area emergency rehabilitation (BAER) team made up of various specialists has been assessing the burned area, he said.

"Our goal is to rehabilitate the habitat where it makes sense," he said. "But there will be other areas where nature doesn't need any assistance."

The Douglas Complex fire, sparked by a July 26 lightning strike, burned some 48,700 acres — more than 76 square miles — in southern Douglas County and northern Jackson and Josephine counties. Although it caused several evacuations, it has been contained without the loss of any homes at a cost of $51.76 million.

The two main fires in the complex included the 24,439-acre Dad's Creek fire which included 12,621 acres of the Medford District. Of the district land burned, 3,882 acres were of a moderate of high-severity burn, Whittington said.

The Dad's Creek fire also burned 11,498 acres of private land, of which 3,748 acres were that were rated moderate to high severity, he said.

The other large fire in the complex, the 23,9438-acre Rabbit Mountain fire, burned 6,216 acres in the Medford District. The BAER team identified 1,142 acres as having been moderately or high-severity burned.

The fire also burned 6,267 acres on the BLM's Roseburg District with 2,670 acres burned moderately or high severity. The remaining acreage included 11,502 acres of private land, of which 5,952 acres were burned moderate or high severity.

— Paul Fattig

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