Prescribed Fire

Fire can be good for people and the land. After many years of fire exclusion, an ecosystem that needs periodic fire becomes unhealthy. Trees are stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The Forest Service manages prescribed fires and even some wildfires to benefit natural resources and reduce the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future. The agency also uses hand tools and machines to thin overgrown sites in preparation for the eventual return of fire.

Learn more about the role of prescribed fire from the “Art of Burning Across Landscapes” video.

Jump to Upcoming Prescribed Burns

Why Do We Burn?

  • Reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires;
  • Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease;
  • Removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem;
  • Provides forage for game;
  • Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species;
  • Recycles nutrients back to the soil; and
  • Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants
A prescribed burn in the forest

Specialists may spend years planning a burn and writing burn plans for prescribed fires. Burn plans identify – or prescribe – the best conditions under which trees and other plants will burn to get the best results safely. They work very closely with wildlife biologists, foresters, hydrologists, and other resource managers, as well as adjacent landowners and interested stakeholders.

Burn plans consider temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. Prescribed fire specialists compare conditions on the ground to those outlined in burn plans before deciding whether to burn on a given day.

Upcoming Prescribed Burns

We usually do spring prescribed burns in May and June and fall burns from late August through October. The actual date depends on local weather conditions. You can expect light to moderate smoke in areas near prescribed burning. The best way to find out where a burn is happening is to contact your local ranger station and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @willamettenf.

Prescribed burning reduces hazardous fuels which protects human communities from extreme fires. It also minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease, removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem, provides forage for game, improves habitat for threatened and endangered species, recycles nutrients back to the soil, and promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants.

Middle Fork Ranger District (Hwy 58 - Communities of Oakridge, Westfir)

Oakridge/Westfir Thinning and Fuels Reduction Project
As part of the ongoing project to reduce the risk of a catastrophic, large wildfire to the Oakridge/Westfir and the High Prairie areas the forest is conducting forest thinning treatments and prescribed fire.  Weather permitting, prescribed burns are scheduled to take place on the Middle Fork Ranger District starting October 30, and continuing through November.  Smoke from the burning piles may be seen on Dead Mountain from the communities of Westfir and Oakridge. Forest recreationists schould expect short term impacts to visibility on roads that are near the burn units, especially during early morning and late evening hours.


Middle Fork Ranger District will be starting prescribed burning on Thursday, April 25, 2019 near the Castle Rock and King Castle trailheads. 

McKenzie River Ranger District (Hwy 126 – Communities of Blue River, Rainbow, McKenzie Bridge)

McKenzie River Ranger District is preparing for its spring prescribed burns. Burning is scheduled to begin as early as Wednesday, April 24, 2019 and will continue into July as conditions allow. This season, 203 acres of low intensity under burning are planned across the district. The location of the burns will be near Toketee Golf Course off Hwy 126; Camp Yale of Hwy 242; Robinson Lake; Foley Ridge; Olallie Creek; and Castle Rock off King Rd.

Detroit Ranger District (Hwy 22 - Communities of Detroit, Idanha, Breitenbush)

Detroit Ranger District is preparing for its fall prescribed burns which may continue until late November. Burning is scheduled to begin Thursday, October 4, at Coy 11, a 32 acre unit off the 2233 (McCoy)-010 Rd., and will continue for the next several days as conditions allow.