The city of Corvallis is planning a controlled burn for Sept. 23 at the Herbert Farm Natural Area.
The 221-acre swath of land near the Marys River in South Corvallis, was acquired by the city in a 2000 open space bond measure, but access is limited and there are minimal recreational amenities.
Despite the lack of recreation features the city has been engaged in a series of habitat restoration efforts at the site. The controlled burn is part of this work.
The Corvallis Fire Department is partnering with Corvallis Parks and Recreation and the Corvallis-based Institute for Applied Ecology on the fire, which only will affect 4 acres of the property. City officials note that specific weather conditions are required to do the burn and that the Sept. 23 date remains tentative.
Parks & Rec and the institute have been conducting restoration work at Herbert Farm since 2011. The project’s most recent work included an oak habitat project in 2018 that strengthened 6.1 acres of oak woodland and savanna located along two small creeks within the larger parcel.
Wildfires were common in the Willamette Valley before European settlers arrived. Modern land management uses regular burns to reintroduce the beneficial effects of fire into an ecosystem, encourage fire-adapted vegetation and wildlife, and reduce the hazard of catastrophic wildfires caused by excessive fuel buildup.
Corvallis officials said that depending on weather conditions, some community members in South Corvallis may notice smoke. The natural area is about a mile from the Corvallis Municipal Airport off of Highway 99W. The Corvallis Fire Department, the Philomath Fire Department, Adair Rural Fire & Rescue and the Oregon Department of Forestry will be on hand to monitor the fire.
Parks & Rec officials have praised the natural area for its biological diversity and hope to someday use the facility for outdoor education and camps. Also a possibility is a trail system that would connect Herbert Farm with the adjacent Caldwell Natural Area and across the Marys River to the Marys River Natural Area and boardwalk.