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Fuel Treatment Projects on the Angeles

Current Fuel Maintenance Projects

firefighter putting water on burn pile

A firefighter puts water on a pile during the Clear Creek Fuel Reduction Program in 2017 (USDA Forest Service Photo by Andrew Mitchell).

Maps of Fiscal Year 2019 Prescribed Burns

Angeles National Forest Prescribed Burns 2019 - Division 1 (Click for larger image)

Angeles National Forest Prescribed Burns 2019 - Division 2 (Click for larger image)

Angeles National Forest Prescribed Burns 2019 - Division 3 (Click for larger image)

Fuel Mitigation Projects - ANF FY19
Los Angeles Gateway District (Division 1)
Project Description Acres
Mt. Wilson Hazardous Fuels Reduction This 736-acre project is to provide wildfire protection to improvements, including historic Mount Wilson Observatory, over 20 communication leases, the Red Box Ranger Station and Haramokgna Cultural Center and the Mount Harvard communications facility. Treatments will also improve the health and vigor of the remaining vegetation by removing dead material, thinning overly dense vegetation and removing non-native species. The intent is to create more resilient landscapes around Mt. Wilson and Mt. Harvard to the effects of wildfire. Treatments started in 2010 and have subsequently have had mechanical, hand and prescribed fire treatments. Treatments for this year include prescribed burning piles (30 acres) and contract pile removal (105 acres). 135
Clear Creek Fuel Break This project provides for public, employee and firefighter safety by reducing the fuel loading and arrangement of fuels along the fuel break. For the last 2 years, this project has received Joint Chiefs funding in response to the strategic location between the Arroyo Seco and Big Tujunga watersheds where wildfire containment provides benefits for resource and downslope urban protection. Vegetation treatments provide defensible space along ridgelines to widths of 300-500 feet maximum. Fuels have been reduced by means of hand, mechanical, and prescription fire treatments. Treatments this year include prescribed burning piles from last year’s mechanical treatment contract (115 acres) and implementation of the final mechanical treatment contract (38 acres) in preparation for next year’s burning. 153
Sawmill Liebre Integrated Fuels and Forest Health A continuation of treatments along Sawmill Liebre ridge for mistletoe removal and vegetation restoration in black oak woodlands. Treatments also consist of plantation maintenance consisting of tree thinning, chaparral removal and tree planting. Treatments this year include thinning in mixed conifer/black oak stands (190 acres) and prescribed burning brush piles (50 acres). 240
Leona Divide Fuelbreak (Copper Fire Fuelbreaks) This project provides a safe and effective location from which to perform fire suppression operations, to slow the spread of a wildland fire at these strategic fuel break locations, and reduce the potential for the loss of life, property and natural resources. There is a need to protect communities and infrastructure in the sphere of influence of the fuel breaks. There is a need to reduce the frequency of fires to prevent type conversion of chaparral less than 15 years of age on slopes and ridgetops. Treatments will be done by an excavator to masticate chaparral on Leona Divide fuel break. 50
GSOB Survey and Treatment/GSOB Preventative Spraying In 2015, the Forest Service confirmed an infestation of the invasive Gold Spotted Oak Borer (GSOB) in coast live oaks in the Green Valley community and the surrounding area. Removal of oak trees infested with GSOB is necessary to help reduce the widespread loss of the native oaks. Survey and treatments will occur on 125 acres. Preventative spraying of Carbaryl will occur on trees, on 25 acres. 150
Los Angeles Gateway Plantations Plantation treatments include thinning from below and removing competing brush. This results in less competition for soil, water and space within the plantation. This provides greater resilience to the plantation from the effects of wildfire. 45
Sand Fire Reforestation Ignited in July 2016, the Sand Fire burned over 41,432 acres within the Angeles National Forest. Out of 3,659 acres of native forestland, 2,710 acres burned into a deforested condition. The purpose of the project is to establish ecologically appropriate forest cover in fire-affected areas within 5 years after the wildfire. The reforestation treatments will accelerate development of ecological appropriate forest cover in the affected areas. Establish a minimum of 75 to 100 trees per acre within 5 years. Mimic tree species diversity that occurs naturally in the area and trees will be grown from seeds collected within local seed zones. And natural regeneration will take place in areas where conditions allow. Areas to be planted are those that will not regenerate naturally. 150
Los Angeles Gateway Administrative Sites Hazardous fuels reduction around administrative infrastructure within the Los Angeles Gateway Administrative Sites. 120

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An Overview

Fire crews on the Angeles National Forest - San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (ANF - SGMNM) are continuing to carry out our fall/winter prescribed fire projects with a planned 50 acres

image of overhead look at a burn area
An overhead view of a section of the Tanbark Fuels Project.

of broadcast burns in the San Gabriel River Ranger District (when fire is applied to most of the surface vegetation) planned for winter 2017.

In addition, several slash pile burn projects remain a priority and will be burned when and as long as conditions remain favorable.

Planned ignitions will begin when weather and fuel conditions become optimal for achieving management objectives while keeping smoke impacts to surrounding communities to a minimum. Weather and fuel conditions are being closely monitored and the prescribed burning program will continue as long as conditions remain favorable.

Why Are Prescribed Fires Ignited on the Wildlands?

Fire has always played an integral role in the varied ecosystems on the ANF - SGMNM. Many species of vegetation require occasional fires for their health and sustainability. Over the past 100 years, humans have altered this natural vegetation management tool by suppressing wildfires because of values such as homes, great landscape views, and water sources. The ANF - SGMNM is reintroducing fire back into many of these ecosystems as a management tool to accomplish numerous objectives.

Prescribed fires, whether broadcast burning or pile burning, combined with mechanical and/or hand thinning treatments, are effective land management tools frequently used to reduce the accumulation of hazardous fuels, including old and dense vegetation. Minimizing hazardous fuels reduces fire intensity and the risk of catastrophic wildland fires. In turn, this action minimizes the risk to firefighter and public safety. Additional benefits include improved wildlife habitat and long-term sustainability of healthier ecosystems and the services they provide.

How Are Prescribed Burns Conducted?

Public safety is always the first consideration of all fire management operations. Each prescribed burn has a detailed prescribed fire plan developed from the comprehensive planning efforts conducted long before project activities are initiated. Each prescribed burn has a detailed prescribed fire plan developed from the comprehensive planning efforts conducted long before the project activities are initiated. The burn plan provides guidelines for what objectives are desired, when and where to burn, under what conditions to burn, acceptable fire behavior, organization, contingency plans for fire control, smoke management, and public concerns. Containment lines that may utilize roads and natural features are then determined and established. Finally, highly trained fire management personnel carefully apply fire to the treatment areas and closely monitor the fire’s progress to ensure 1) the fire stays exactly where it is intended and 2) the fire is meeting or will meet, the planned objectives. Frequent adjustments to ignition patterns are sometimes needed to ensure the best opportunity for project objectives to be met. Crews remain on site long after the flames have subsided to ensure the containment lines are secure.

Broadcast vs. Pile Burns

Fire managers on the ANF - SGMNM utilize two primary prescribed fire techniques. Broadcast burning involves the widespread application of fire to ground vegetation during a time when that vegetation is readily available to burn but not dry and volatile. Spring and Fall are the most common times for this type of burning.

Pile burning is utilized as a result of both hand and mechanical thinning operations.

image of fire burning in tanbark burn area
Broadcast burns aim to treat a whole area and not just a pile.

Crews cut small trees and limb up live trees to reduce the ladder fuels (vegetation that connects surface fuels to trees). Piles are hand or machine stacked into strategic locations so the subsequent fire won’t ignite trees or other vegetation.

 

Fire managers typically burn these piles when the area has adequate snow cover. This nearly eliminates chances for ground fuels to ignite and provides for relatively easy containment. Fall and Winter are the most common times for this type of burning.

What Can I Expect to See?

After the burn is completed, the average eye might see the area as simply black and barren. But take a moment to look closer. A quick examination of a grassy area will likely reveal the unburned bottoms of grass stems now free to grow uninhibited by years of dead grass layers that may have been robbing the plant of water, nutrients, and light. Prescribed burns are used to thin out ladder fuels and overly dense patches of small trees. In some cases, one might see larger numbers of small trees and ladder fuels which have been killed by the prescribed fire. Prescribed fire is also designed to kill unhealthy and often bug-infested trees which are detrimental to the health of the ecosystem. In those cases, one might see larger swaths of fire-killed trees that will restart the natural progression of the ecosystem. Our suggestion is to watch the landscape rebound from this natural change agent and revel in the fact that you are witness to an event that has shaped this land for thousands of years.

What About the Smoke?

Smoke from prescribed fires can often be seen for many miles. Fire management specialists work diligently to adhere to smoke management regulations set forth by the South Coast Air Quality Managment District.

The primary objective when land managers conduct fuels reduction projects is to reduce the possibility of large wildfires which can, among other things, generate dangerous amounts of smoke. The amount and duration of lingering smoke created from small-scale prescribed fires are minimal compared to the numerous dense smoke-filled days of many summers, due to massive wildfires throughout the west.

Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information view the AQMD Current Air Quality Map.

The ANF - SGMNM regularly posts Tweets about our prescribed fires. Follow us on Twitter: @Angeles_NF for updates. Look for and use the specific hashtags for each burn.

  • Provide for firefighter safety through the use of the fuel break as a strategic and tactical barrier to fire spread
  • Reduce the potential of large fire spreading to the Arroyo Seco watershed from other locations on the forest
    • Provide for firefighter safety through the use of the fuel break as a strategic and tactical barrier to fire spread
    • Reduce the potential of catastrophic fire spreading from the wildland-urban-interface into the Angeles National Forest
    • Limit fires spreading out of the Forest into the developed interface areas of the San Gabriel Valley




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