Second round of ecological burning planned at Mt. Pisgah today, Oct. 18

Second round of ecological burning planned at Mt. Pisgah today, Oct. 18
Posted on 10/18/2018

Lane County Parks, in cooperation with the Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah, The Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, will be conducting an additional prescribed ecological burns at the Howard Buford Recreation Area (HBRA)  today, weather permitting. The ecological burns – this time in the South Bottomlands and Spring Box areas of the park– will help enhance prairie and savanna habitats.


“This is the second round of burning at Mt. Pisgah this year, following the October 3rd burn in the southeast corner of the park” said Lane County Natural Areas Coordinator Ed Alverson. “Burning is one of several important management tools we use to help preserve the savanna and prairie habitats that are so special to the park.”


The South Bottomlands unit covers about 40 acres of restored prairie habitat. The Spring Box burn will include a small portion of HBRA as part of a larger burn unit located primarily on The Nature Conservancy’s Willamette Confluence Preserve.


For the safety of park visitors, the following trail closures will be in place during day of the ecological burns:


Spring Box Closures:

  • The northern part of the Spring Box management unit and trails north of the horse arena in the North Bottomlands will be closed


South Bottomlands Closures:

  • Meadow Road south of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) powerline (compost yard)
  • Quarry Road Trail 5 south of the BPA powerline (south of the water garden)
  • Quarry Road Trail 5 at the junction with trail 3 (east side of the park - adjacent to Buckbrush Creek)


Visitors to the park should be aware of localized smoky conditions and the presence of fire crews within the park during the burn. 


Why we conduct prescribed ecological burns:


Prescribed ecological burning is being performed under specific conditions of humidity, wind direction, and atmospheric lift that allow fire to be used safely and with minimal impact to the public. Burning is a tool for the management of vegetation to help re-establish historically native plant communities in these rare Willamette Valley habitats. The Willamette Valley was once dominated by savannas and prairies rich with diverse grass and wildflower species. These now-rare ecosystems requires regular disturbance, such as fire, to maintain native species and to prevent conversion of open prairie to a closed woodland or forest. Historically, disturbance was provided through regular intentional burning by native people or ignition by lightning. Many of our native prairie wildflowers, such as camas and the federally endangered Bradshaw’s Lomatium, have evolved with fire for thousands of years and flourish after a site is burned. 


Ecological burns in the park’s prairies accomplish several biological and fire safety goals including improved seed germination, removal of built up thatch, and short-term soil fertilization.  All of these factors help native, grassland species thrive, including the declining Western Meadowlark (Oregon’s state bird), which nests in prairies and other open grassland habitats. In addition, prescribed burns protect the open prairie structure, as well as reduce the future risk of wildfires to local residences through the removal of standing, dead vegetation.


The prescribed ecological burns are conducted in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and non-profit Friends of Buford Park & Mount Pisgah. The Nature Conservancy’s 1305 acre Willamette Confluence Preserve and the 2212 acre HBRA are part of a 4700 acre block of public open space and conservation lands located at Mt. Pisgah and along the Middle and Coast Forks of the Willamette River.