Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society
The Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society (Hugo Neighborhood) is within the Jumpoff Joe Watershed (1998. Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis (REO Watershed #1710031002). U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Medford District Office (MDO), Grants Pass Resource Area (GPRA). Medford, Oregon).
A. Wildfire Hazard Issue
The BLM, MDO, GPRA found that the Quartz Joe Watershed had a high wildfire hazard classification, high risk classification from wildfire, and high values at risk from wildfire (1998. Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis (REO Watershed #1710031002). U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Medford District Office, Grants Pass Resource Area. Medford, Oregon). There at five Hugo maps of interest for wildfire.
B. Fire Management
1. Fundamental Changes to the Fire Regime
The historic fire regime for the watershed has been that of a low-severity regime. This regime is characterized by frequent fires of low intensity. The exclusion of fire occurrence (both natural and prescribed) has lead to a shift in the fire regime to an unnatural, high-severity regime where fires are infrequent, usually high intensity, and cause stand replacement. Where natural high-severity fire regimes normally occur (e.g. northern Cascades or Olympic Mountains), fire return intervals are long and usually associated with infrequent weather events such as prolonged drought or east wind, low humidity events and lightning ignition sources. Southern Oregon and the Jumpoff Joe watershed has the same weather conditions and topography that created the former low-severity fire regime. The only change in the fire environment has been the fuel conditions created since the removal of frequent fire. This has caused a vegetation shift to dense, overstocked stands of less fire resistant species, with an increase in dead and down fuels. Simultaneously, a dramatic increase in human ignition sources has occurred. This created a current condition of large, increasingly destructive, difficult to suppress wildfire with the capability to destroy many of the resource and human values present in the watershed. The Walker Mountain Fire in 1988 is an example. This fire burned over 2,100 acres and was nearly 90 percent high intensity, a stand replacement fire. Homes in the Colonial Valley area were threatened with destruction for nearly a week before suppression forces could control the spread of the fire. 1998. Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. BLM, MDO, GPRA pps. 45 - 46.
2. Current Condition
The data collected for the Quartz Joe watershed for hazard, ignition risk, and values at risk for loss from wildfire are summarized in Tables 1 - 4. Wildfire information is displayed on Maps 18a - 22b. Rating classification criteria are summarized in Appendix G (Fire Management Planning - Hazard, Risk, And Value At Risk Rating Classification Method and Assumptions). Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. pps. 46, 193 - 195.
Hazard, risk and value at risk are conditions that are used to better understand and plan for potential fire management problems and identify opportunities to manage the watershed to meet goals, objectives and desired future conditions. Wildfire occurrence can often prevent the successful achievement of short-term and mid-term land management goals and objectives. Stand replacement wildfire can prevent the development of mature and late-successional forest conditions as well as convert existing mature forests to early seral forests. Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. p. 46.
The Quartz Joe Watershed has increased vegetation and dead/down fuel conditions over the past that have shifted a large amount of the area into a high fire hazard condition (Table 1). Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the watershed is in a high/moderate fire hazard classification. Much of this is a result of the large acreage in less than mature vegetation classes. Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. p. 48, Map 18b, Appendix G.
The high level of human population within this portion of the watershed creates the high of risk for wildfire occurrence (97%). Risk is at an extreme level (Table 2). Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. p. 48, Map 19b, Appendix G.
Seventy-two percent (72%) is a large amount of land classified as high value. This is the result of the amount of private lands, especially residential areas (Table 3). Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. p. 48, Map 20b, Appendix G.
Almost 40 percent (40%) of the watershed rates high in all three factors: hazard, risk, values at risk (Table 4). This indicates that wildfire occurrence in this watershed will have an extremely negative effect on resources. These areas need to be considered as priority areas for management actions and activity that will decrease the potential for large stand replacement wildfire occurrence. Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. p. 49, Map 21b.
© 2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society