When it comes to controlled burns in the Ashland Watershed to promote forest health and keep the city safer from wildfire, it's safe to say the burn touched off last month did not go as planned.
For reasons that are still unclear, the fire deliberately set in brush and woody debris burned hotter than expected, scorching and maybe killing some large "legacy trees" the burn was intended to help.
The burn was part of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project, a joint venture of the Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, the city of Ashland and Lomakatsi Restoration Project. The AFR project is designed to reverse the effects of a century of fire suppression using prescribed burning, logging and commercial brush-thinning.
The too-hot burn affected just 65 acres out of 250 burned this spring, and 7,600 total acres in the AFR project. But the best part of this mistake is the way project officials handled it.
They could have kept mum and moved on — as government agencies all too often do when mistakes are made. Instead, they publicized it.
"There's no intent among the partners to pretend it didn't happen," Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest spokeswoman Chamise Kramer said.
Not only that, they're studying the damage to learn how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again. And they're showing it off during a public tour from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 29. Meet in front of Pioneer Hall, 73 Winburn Way. And be sure to say thanks.