Friday, May 4, 2018

Ochoco prescribed burn planned near Hwy 26

UPDATE on Friday, May 11

Due to the storms that came through over the last week, the unit was deemed too wet to burn with desirable effects.

The Forest has decided to postpone this burn until Monday, May 14, and Tuesday, May 15. 

Weather predictions are calling for precipitation in the project area sometime next week, possibly as early as Tuesday.

Resources assigned to this prescribed burn include:

•             US Forest Service & Prineville BLM
•             Sunriver Fire Department
•             Crook Country Fire and Rescue
•             Oregon Department of Forestry
•             La Grande Interagency Hotshot Crew
•             Wolf Creek Interagency Hotshot Crew
•             Heli-Rappellers from the Salmon Airbase, located on the Salmon-Challis NF

All other details below remain the same. 

PRINEVILLE, Ore. – Fire managers on the Ochoco National Forest plan to conduct a 1,200-acre prescribed burn near Spears Meadow along Highway 26 next week, if weather and conditions allow.

Weather predictions are calling for some precipitation over the weekend, which could render the unit too wet for an effective prescribed burn. Should fuel conditions meet prescription, fire managers plan to conduct ignitions starting late in the morning on Wednesday, May 9, and continuing through the following Thursday.

This unit is located just west of Highway 26 along Forest Road 3350 and Peterson Creek, about 19 miles east of Prineville. See attached map of the unit or visit our online interactive prescribed fire map to see the unit location:

Objectives for this burn include reducing surface fuels to lessen the potential for catastrophic wildfire and restoring low-intensity fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem. About 400 acres of the 1,200 have been treated in the past 5 years, but the Forest plans to treat the entire unit next week. The whole unit will be blacklined with hand ignitions and then possibly aerial ignited with the use of a helicopter. 

If the burn takes place, smoke is likely to impact nearby Highway 26 and adjacent Forest roads during periods of active ignitions. Sign boards and flaggers will be present along the highway as needed. At night, due to cool night time temperatures, smoke will pool into low-level areas and may come into Prineville. This smoke should be of short duration during the early morning hours until the inversion lifts and clear back out of the valleys. The public is encouraged to close their windows at night and if smoke is on the roadway, turn on headlights and slow down while traveling through smoky areas.

The public’s health is important to the Forest Service. While significant preventive measures are taken, many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke, including severity and duration of smoke exposure and a person’s health. If individuals feel impacted by smoke, they should avoid outdoor physical exertion and remain indoors. If people experience serious health impacts from the smoke, they should contact their doctor. For more information about smoke and health, visit the Oregon Health Authority recommendations through this link:

Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires (including pile burning), and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.

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.

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