Prescribed Burning May Soon Begin: Likely to go through Winter Season
Release Date: Oct 29, 2012
Susanville, Calif… As the cooler fall weather continues, area residents and visitors to the Lassen National Forest could start to notice some smoke in the air. That’s because changing whether conditions that provide for safe and efficient burning mean prescribed burning programs can get underway. Projects will be implemented when air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and fuel moisture are in the desired range, or in so-called “prescription.”
Objectives of prescribed burning are to:
• Reduce hazardous fuels (dead and fallen trees, dead branches, and brush) that can feed catastrophic wildfires, such as the recent fires across the west
• Restore fire-resilient forests by reintroducing fire to ecosystems, thereby helping to return the landscape to one that more closely mimics the natural fire regime
• Improve ecological services, via the nutrients released back into the soil from consumed fuels, leading to greater understory productivity and more forage for wildlife
The combination of thinning and burning done during prescribed treatments also offers benefits to surrounding communities.
“Treated areas are used to help defend communities against fire,” said Debbie Mayer, District Fire Management Officer on the Hat Creek Ranger District. “In several instances on the Lassen National Forest, for example the 2008 Peterson and 2009 Butte fires, treated areas aided in reducing fire size and lowering suppression costs,” Mayer added.
Research has shown that both fire intensity and tree mortality are reduced in stands that are both thinned and prescribe-burned when compared to adjacent untreated stands. The Cone Fire, within the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest on the Eagle Lake Ranger District, is one such example.
Two precautions will be taken to minimize the amount of smoke in the air. First, burning will only take place on permissible burn days. Second, the Forest will coordinate with other public agencies and industrial landowners in the areas surrounding the burn locations to help limit the smoke present in the air at any one time.
Area residents and visitors can expect to see fire equipment and smoke activity associated with the following projects on the three districts of the Lassen.
The Eagle Lake Ranger District (ELRD) is preparing to implement the fall prescribed fire program, which could begin as early as October and continue through December. Approximately 1,620 acres of understory burning is planned in the following locations:
• Crater Mountain area: 500 acres
• Pegleg Mountain area: 400 acres
• Bidwell Springs area: 220 acres
• Harvey Valley area: 200 acres
• Dow Butte: 300 acres. Dow Butte is the only project area located within 10 miles of a community (approximately six miles north of Spaulding). Depending on weather conditions during the prescribed burning, smoke could be visible from Susanville, the Eagle Lake basin, and while traveling on Highways 44 and 139, and County Road A21.
In addition to these treatments, burning of approximately 400 acres of tractor piles and 70 acres of hand piles are planned throughout the ELRD once significant rain or snowfall has occurred.
The Almanor Ranger District (ALRD) is planning to implement two prescribed fire underburn projects - one this fall, weather permitting, and the second this winter sometime after January, as follows:
• West Dusty DFPZ Project: Up to 148 acres within past timber harvest units to be implemented this fall, weather permitting. Located ten miles northwest of the town of Chester.
• Cold Springs Project: 366 acres, located five miles due west of the community of Butte Meadows and nine miles north-northeast of the community of Cohasset, in Butte County. Smoke from this project will likely be visible from the Central Valley (Chico, etc.).
Additionally, several large pile-burning projects are planned throughout the district. Ignition of these pile-burning projects will begin as soon as an acceptable level of fall precipitation has occurred and will continue through winter and possibly into spring, depending on conditions.
Burning of both tractor and hand piles across the ALRD, for the purpose of reducing surface fuel accumulations on Lassen National Forest lands adjacent to communities. The following, while not a comprehensive list, gives the locations of the major pile-burning areas within the ALRD:
• Jonesville DFPZ: 70 acres adjacent to the community of Jonesville in Butte County
• Storrie: 23 acres within the Storrie Fire burn area in Plumas County
• Warner DFPZ: 28 acres near the Feather River and Willow Creek Home Sites in Plumas County
• Mill Creek Fuel Break: 9 acres around the community of Mill Creek in Tehama County
Finally, the Hat Creek Ranger District (HCRD) has plans for prescribed underburning throughout the month of November, as follows:
• North Coble project area: Approximately 500 acres are planned along Forest Route 18 and Forest Route 22
• Blacks Ridge project area: Approximately 700 acres in the vicinity of Blacks Ridge
There will also be various pile-burning operations covering approximately 1,000 acres throughout HCRD in the North 49, Old Station, Pittville, Backbone, Reading fire, Leap, and Legume areas. Pile burning may extend into December depending on weather conditions.
For more information regarding prescribed burning on the Lassen National Forest, please contact the following:
Eagle Lake RD - Division Chief Merv Lent or Fuels Officer Chuck Lewis, 530-257-4188
Almanor RD - Fuels Officer Patrick Doyle or Fuels Tech Jennifer Hensel, 530-258-2141
Hat Creek RD - Dale Newby, Fuels Officer, 530-336-5521