Thursday, September 8, 2016

Prescribed burning planned for the Ochocos this fall

PRINEVILLE, Ore.— Fuel conditions on the Ochoco National Forest are currently very dry, but as temperatures moderate and more precipitation arrives this fall, fire managers will look for opportunities to complete two large prescribed burns and several smaller ones to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health.

Any decision to move forward with prescribed burn plans will depend on appropriate weather conditions and fuel moisture, as well as adequate staffing and public notifications.

The two largest burns planned combine for a total of 5,000 acres and could be implemented simultaneously if conditions allow. The Ochoco National Forest wishes to make public notice of these potential burns now, so that hunters and other visitors have advanced notice of the locations and potential timing of these planned events.

The Upper Beaver burn unit totals about 3,800 acres, located 13 miles north of Paulina in the Tamarack Butte area.

The Spears burn unit totals about 1,200 acres, located 15 miles northeast of Prineville in the White Fir Springs area.

“Fall treatment of 5,000 acres is a significant prescribed fire project for us,” said Stacey Forson, Forest Supervisor for the Ochoco National Forest. “Periodic fire in these ecosystems reduces hazardous fuel build-up and greatly minimizes the risk of extreme fires in the future.”

Visit our “Prescribed Fire in Central Oregon” map online to see exact locations of the proposed burn units:

All access roads to the burn units have already been signed, and employees will make a sweep of the areas should conditions provide the Forest with the ability to move forward with any of the burns. Another public notice will be sent out once a proposed date is identified.

Plans call for blacklining the Spears and Upper Beaver units with hand ignitions, and then the application of aerial ignition devices delivered from a helicopter to help consume interior fuels. Ignitions are expected to last three days.

Smoke will be visible during ignitions and is expected to linger for several days. Road signs and flaggers will be used along adjacent forest roads. Smoke will be most visible along Highway 26 and Forest Roads 3350 and 500 during the Spears burn, and from Paulina and along Forest Road 58 during the Upper Beaver burn.

Prescribed burning is part of a Forest Service program to remove hazardous fuels in order to reduce the potential for high-intensity uncharacteristic fire, while restoring low intensity fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem and improving range and forest health.

Prescribed burning is a proactive approach to fire management, reintroducing fire in a planned, low intensity manner that benefits the resources, instead of waiting for an unplanned ignition, such as lightning, to start a wildfire that requires an expensive suppression response and can burn with destructive intensity.

The Forest Service appreciates public tolerance of increased smoke and vehicle traffic in support of these restoration goals.

For more information on prescribed burning plans, or to be added to a burning notification list, contact Assistant Fire Management Officer Sam Pearcy at (541) 416-6428 or

Spears burn unit

Upper Beaver burn unit

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