‘Burn to learn’ underway at Pompadour Bluff just east of Ashland

Harry and Marilyn Fisher Preserve at Pompadour Bluff in spring. Donna Rhee photo
April 26, 2022

S.O. Land Conservancy to offer occasional hiking opportunities at new preserve

Smoke and flames may be visible from the slopes near Pompadour Bluff through Saturday this week, but there’s no cause for concern.

Jackson County Fire District 5 (FD 5) firefighters have been training on the bluff since Monday. Southern Oregon Land Conservancy (SOLC) is working in cooperation with FD5 on the “Burn to Learn” operation, giving firefighter trainees practice in extinguishing a house fire and other situations they may encounter.

Pompadour Bluff, about a mile northeast of Ashland Airport, is SOLC’s newest conservation preserve, bequeathed to the conservancy by the Harry and Marilyn Fisher in 2020. SOLC has managed the land — now known as the Harry and Marilyn Fisher Preserve — since last year. 

The iconic Pompadour Bluff juts out prominently on ancestral land of the Shasta and Takelma Indigenous People, according to an SOLC news release. Its conservation values are immense, with the preserve encompassing nearly 55 acres and boasting significant natural habitats of grassland, oak savanna, chaparral, a seasonal wet draw and three full acres of cliffs and rocks. The bluff serves as wintering range for deer and elk. A number of bird species breed along the crags and in the oak trees.          

The “Burn to Learn” exercise will remove the structure while allowing for future conservation and educational programs and facilities. After a lengthy evaluation, SOLC determined that a full-time residence would lead to greater disturbance for wildlife than removing the structure, which otherwise would have required substantial renovation work.

Firefighters will prepare the structure for various firefighting scenarios to challenge firefighters to use their skills under live-fire conditions. The scenarios planned include search and rescue, ventilation, fire hose operations, water supply, firefighter rescue, salvage and overhaul.

“We appreciate this partnership and the opportunities it provides our recruits,” said FD 5 Recruit Training Officer Dave Meads.

“This Burn to Learn is a chance for Fire District 5 to complete important training for firefighter trainees, and a step toward converting the former home site at this Preserve to a learning space for the community,” said Steve Wise, SOLC executive director.

The conservancy plans to protect and restore Pompadour Bluff, and to offer occasional hiking opportunities to the broader community.

For more information about Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, email info@landconserve.org, or call 541-482-3069.

For more information about Burn to Learn, contact FD 5 at 541-535-4222.

Source: Southern Oregon Land Conservancy news release. Email Ashland.news at news@ashland.news.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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