Peninger Fire Restoration (Central Point near the Expo Center)

In the late afternoon of July 17, 2018, the three-alarm Peninger Fire began and burned roughly 123 acres of land in the heart of Central Point. The fire burned land along the well-known Bear Creek Greenway, threatened 100’s of nearby homes, evacuated 1000’s of residents, and closed a portion of East Pine Street for numerous hours as fire officials gained control of the fast-moving wildfire. Due to the nature and location of this fire, it was important that local natural resources managers come together to turn the attention into positive action rather than fear and misunderstanding.

Prior to the fire, A large portion of this area was a dense colony of Himalayan blackberry, poison hemlock and other invasive plants.  Since the fire, ODOT, Jackson County Fire District 3, City of Central Point, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District and Jackson County, have taken measures to minimize erosion, control invasive plants and use the area as a location that can provide a public learning opportunity.  The Natural Resources Department of the Rogue Valley Council of Governments provided overall project coordination.

This project involves collaboration with several partners on the restoration of the Peninger Fire, the Crater Land Lab, and the Expo Center areas. For the 2018 – 2019 fiscal year, the following activities have been completed:

  1. Spot treatment of invasive plants,
  2. Removal of dead blackberry canes,
  3. Installation of willow stakes and mattresses,
  4. Seeding and straw mulch covering of the bank,
  5. Tree replanting,
  6. Removal of hazard trees along the Greenway,
  7. Spraying and mechanical removal of invasive plants,
  8. Full replanting of the riparian area with riparian trees and shrubs along the banks on the east side of the Peninger Fire area,
  9. Water quality monitoring by RVCOG; samples were collected for turbidity, metals (lead, cadmium, zinc, and iron) and nitrates from a location near the Pine Street Bridge and a location near the Upton Road Bridge in October and November 2018, and April 2019.
  10. Vegetation and erosion monitoring by Oregon State University Extension’s Student Watershed Assessment Team (SWAT), which began monitoring in November 2018.

To be completed during the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year are the following activities:

  1. Full replanting of the treated areas using willows within the floodplain and drought-tolerant trees in upland areas at the Expo Center,
  2. Spot treatment of invasive plants in planted areas, and
  3. Vegetation and erosion monitoring by SWAT through 2021.

Riparian Restoration at the Jackson County Expo Center (9/27/2019 – 6/30/2021)

The site behind the Jackson County Expo Center was previously overtaken by poison hemlock and Himalayan blackberry. To reduce fire risk in the area and to encourage native plant growth, these invasive species have been addressed through mechanical removal and will be subjected to spot spraying.

The scope of this project also includes the following tasks:

  1. Project coordination,
  2. Removal of dead hazard trees within the Peninger Fire area on the west side of Bear Creek within the ODOT managed parcel,
  3. Planting of the Peninger Fire area on the east and west sides of Bear Creek within the ODOT managed parcel. Several hundred trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants were dispersed within these areas,
  4. Maintenance of the planting area for two growing seasons during 2020 and 2021,
  5. Maintenance of the Central Point clearing area (41 acres) through additional clearing and herbicide treatments.

Other Restoration Related Projects

  • Bear Creek Restoration Initiative
  • Larson Creek Restoration