Wet weather ushers in prescribed burning

By Observer Upload October 15, 2012 03:00 pm
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest will begin implementing its fall prescribed burning programs following expected cooler and wetter weather. Prescribed fire managers are planning to implement hazardous fuel reduction burns beginning at many project sites.

Prescribed burning is done to reduce dead and down fuels, selectively thin understory trees in dense forested stands, stimulate fire resistant plant species, enhance forage and browse, reduce the risk of large stand-replacement fires and restore fire under controlled conditions as a disturbance factor in these landscapes. 

Hazardous fuel reduction is not without impacts. Smoke associated with prescribed burning is a major concern and the hardest to forecast in the implementation planning process. Prescribed fire managers work closely with the Oregon State Smoke Forecast Center in accordance with the Oregon Smoke Management Plan to determine when, where and how much is burned on a daily basis.

Many areas are burned on 10- to 15-year rotations to limit fuels accumulations and enhance forage and browse important to wildlife. Actual acres within a project area may vary dependent upon fuel conditions, smoke dispersion, wind patterns and other variables. Acres may be higher or lower in some project areas than listed. Weather patterns, fuel conditions and smoke dispersion will determine exactly where and when units are ignited.

For more information on prescribed burning in the Wallowa Fire Zone (Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Hells Canyon NRA and Eagle Cap Ranger District), call 541-426-4978. The WFZ plans to conduct prescribed burning on 3,000 acres this fall, which may include:

- Minam (1,500 acres), west of the Little Minam River

- Spooner (1,500 acres), Harl Butte area

- Hotel (758 acres), 20 miles north of Wallowa

- Simmons (115 acres), 20 miles north of Enterprise

- Green McCoy (760 acres), Minam River

- Baldwin (340 acres), 15 miles north of Enterprise

- Arroz (350 acres), 24 miles northeast of Enterprise in the Summit Ridge Area

- Red Vine (20 acres), northeast of Enterprise near Billy Meadows

For more information on prescribed burning in the Grande Ronde Fire Zone (La Grande Ranger District), call 541-963-7186. The GRFZ plans to conduct prescribed burning on 3,000 acres this fall, which may include:

- Dark Meadow (1,500 acres), 15 air miles to the west of La Grande

- Bald Angel (1,500 acres), 7 air miles to the southeast of Medical Springs 

- Medical Springs/Smith/Cold Angel pile burning (400 acres), 2-4 miles southeast of Medical Springs

Forest Service and cooperators personnel will do the burning. For general information about the Wallowa-Whitman prescribed burning program, contact Bret Ruby at 541-523-1415 or Steve Hawkins at 541-523-1262 or visit the forest web site at www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman.