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Controlled burn planned for Ashland watershed on Friday

Fire officials warn that Ashland residents likely will see a column of smoke rising from the watershed on Friday as the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project does a controlled underburn.

Trails and roads in the area will be closed while crews manage the low-burning fire.

During an underburn, crews carefully set fire to an area surrounded by fire lines to hold the low flames. Underburns mimic the natural role of fire in the ecosystem, consuming needles, leaves and branches on the forest floor that would otherwise accumulate and potentially fuel a severe fire that could threaten the community and Ashland's municipal water supply, officials said. In controlled burning, large trees survive, and the fire helps recycle nutrients for them. 

It has taken more than four years to get forests to a condition suitable for safe and effective controlled burning, a news release announcing the planned underburn said. The U.S. Forest Service received approval from air quality regulators as the forecast calls for weather conditions that should move smoke away from Ashland and the Rogue Valley through the day and evening.

The following areas will be closed on Friday: White Rabbit Trailhead, White Rabbit Trail, Alice in Wonderland Trail above Bandersnatch, Ashland Loop Road above the junction with Morton Street, Jabberwocky Trail and Caterpillar Trail.

Updates on trails and roads also are posted at www.ashlandwatershed.org.