Though current weather conditions are causing an extended fire season and public use restrictions, as Central Oregon sees more moisture, shorter days and cooler temperatures, Forest Service and BLM fuels specialists will begin fall and winter prescribed burning, officials said Wednesday.
Prescribed fires, in conjunction with thinning and mowing, can reduce hazardous fuels. Prescribed fire also is used by fire managers and ecologists to improve forest and rangeland health and protect the quality of our watersheds and wildlife habitat.
Fall and winter prescribed fire programs may include the burning of previous gathered concentrations of vegetation, known as pile burning, as well as broadcast burning, underburning, and "jackpot burning," which are more widespread applications of fire across a designated area.
Prescribed fires are ignited when predicted weather patterns and fuel conditions will minimize smoke impacts to air quality and public health and are completed in compliance with the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan.
Specifically, the following prescribed burns are potentially planned for this fall & winter, given appropriate weather conditions:
Sisters Ranger District:
As part of ongoing efforts to reduce the impacts of wildfire to Sisters area residents and improve forest health, fuels specialists on the Sisters Ranger District have approximately 400 acres of underburning and 500 acres of pile burning potentially planned for this fall & winter. These burns include the following:
- Metolius Basin - 380 acres split between several units located off of FS Roads 14, 1420, and 1425 within the Metolius Research Natural Area and near Allingham Campground in the Metolius Basin
- Pile Burning – near the intersection of FS Roads 4606 and 16 (Three Creeks Road); adjacent to Edgington Road; along FS Road 15; and in the Black Pine Springs area east of FS Road 16 (Three Creeks Road)
Bend – Fort Rock Ranger District:
Fuels specialists with the Bend – Fort Rock Ranger District have portions of several project areas lined up for their fall & winter prescribed burning program. A wildlife habitat restoration project, Cow Meadow, could begin as early as this week. Other projects may be implemented as conditions allow. The projects include the following:
- Cow Meadow – 142 acres 12 miles west of La Pine, adjacent to Crane Prairie Reservoir
- Charlie Brown18 – 50 acres near the junction of FS Roads 42 & 46 (Cascade Lakes Hwy), 15 miles west of La Pine
- Dilman 13, 14, 57, 58, & 59 – 203 acres 4 to 8 miles west of La Pine. Units 13 & 14 are close to Wickiup Reservoir. Units 57, 58, and 59 are adjacent to FS Road 44
- Katalo 21 – 57 acres 6 miles west of Sunriver near the junction of FS Roads 40 & 45
- South Bend 135, 36, 138, 139 & 456 - 702 acres on the south side of Bend, ½ mile west of Horse Butte
- Pile Burning – numerous locations across the District including sites along the Cascade Lakes Hwy, on Pine Mountain, near Sunriver, and adjacent to Skyliners Road
Crescent Ranger District:
As weather and moisture allow, specialists hope to begin prescribed burning as early as mid-October. These burns include:
- Hammy65 - 150 acres located on FS Roads 62 and 6210 on Ringo Butte
- Jig1 - 172 acres located 1 mile west of the Cascade Lakes Highway and FS Road 4652
- Pile Burning - along Highway 58 at the East end of Odell Lake; FS Road 60 near Crescent Lake; and other locations throughout the district
Prineville District BLM:
Specialists with the Prineville District BLM have several project areas lined up for this fall/winter and anticipate prescribed burning within the Ag units towards the end of October. Pile and Jackpot burning will not begin until December or later, depending on conditions. Projects include the following:
- Clarno Ag Fields- 100 acres 1½ miles north of Clarno, OR
- Bridge Creek Ag Fields - 150 acres 2 miles northwest of Mitchell, OR
- Pile Burning – several locations across the District including sites 4 – 15 miles from La Pine, Madras, Paulina, Prineville, and Brothers. Higher visibility pile burning is anticipated within La Pine State Park, adjacent to the La Pine High School, neighboring Eagle Crest Resort in the Cline Buttes area, and adjacent to the Prineville Lake Acres subdivision near Prineville.
Ochoco National Forest & Crooked River National Grassland:
Fall vegetation conditions more closely mimic natural burning conditions and are therefore an ideal time for prescribed fire on the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. Specialists hope to begin working on the following projects mid-October or once conditions allow:
- Cyrus – 200 acres ½ mile south of Cyrus Horse Camp on the Crooked River National Grassland
- White Rock – 1000 acres west of Highway 26 near Spears Meadow
- Spears Meadow – 200 acres west side of Highway 26 south of Cougar Campground
- Wildcat – 400 acres in Mill Creek by Wildcat Campground
- Gray Prairie – 1800 acres 5 miles south of Big Summit Prairie
- Black Mountain – 1000 acres 2 miles east of Big Summit Prairie
- Elkhorn – 500 acres east of Elkhorn Campground
- Florida Creek – 400 acres 1 mile west of Sherwwod Saddle in the West Maurys
- Humphrey’s Camp – 200 acres north of the Black Canyon Wilderness
In all cases, the areas around the burns will be signed to inform motorists of the prescribed fire activities.
People recreating in or traveling through the area should use caution as smoke may affect visibility and travel. If motorists encounter smoke as a result of the burning, they should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care.
Patrols and mop-up activities will occur during and following ignitions and night patrols will occur on an as-needed basis, depending on conditions.
Individual media releases will be sent out prior to each burn providing more information on the type of burn, the location and information on any road or area closures. All prescribed burns will be mopped up and patrolled following ignition.
For more information, visit the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center website at http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/fire/