Published June 24, 2022

Since our last post kicking off the tenth annual Ashland Watershed Youth Training & Employment Program, our fifteen member crew of high school students from around the Rogue Valley started exploring local landscapes, the principles of ecological restoration, and the wide variety of natural resource career pathways. The crew safely worked through the first wave of summer heat to pile slash from ecological thinning on private land as part of the West Bear All-Lands Restoration Project—becoming part of an important large-scale, collaborative effort to reduce community wildfire risk with Rogue Forest Partners.

This week the crew met with Chief Hanley and his team at the Jackson County Fire District #5 IAFF Local 2596 station to learn about community fire response and the wildland urban interface that characterizes many of the neighborhoods the district serves. They spent a day in a gorgeous oak woodland (previously treated by Lomakatsi) in the Colestin Valley with Lomakatsi Tribal Partnerships Director Belinda Brown and Executive Director Marko Bey to learn about Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge and oak habitat, and complete an oak-themed scavenger hunt.

Then at the West Bear work site, Lomakatsi Fire Operations Manager Sean Voorhes discussed wildland fire and how ecological fuels reduction aids fire response. Callum Knights, Soil Conservationist, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service visited to share about the agency’s work with partners and private landowners, and careers in natural resources. Last but certainly not least, Tyler McCarty, District Forester from ODF Southwest Oregon District presented about Oregon Department of Forestry’s land management strategies to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk.

A big thank you to all our partners who came out this week to support the youth crew, and to the funders who have made this year’s program possible: U.S. Forest Service- Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, City of Ashland Oregon, National Forest Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Community Foundation‘s BottleDrop Fund, Gray Family Foundation.

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