Tuesday, 25 June 2024

National Forest to begin prescribed burning season

MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The Mendocino National Forest is entering the fall prescribed burning season as part of a continued commitment to protect communities and natural resources from wildfires.


The public may notice smoke in various parts of the forest during the next few months, forest officials reported this week.


As cooler weather and higher humidity move in, bringing to a close the hot and dry wildfire season, there is an opportunity to bring fire into the forest in a controlled setting.


Prescribed fires are used to clear the forest floor of small fuels and brush without burning or killing large trees.


During prescribed burning season, fire crews also burn piles of wood debris and fuel that are the result of fuel reduction activities in the Forest. This year the Grindstone Ranger District also plans to burn a pile at the Chico Genetic Research Center.


Prescribed burns are conducted when there is a window of opportunity and specific conditions and criteria are met before, and will be sustained during and after the burn. These include temperature, wind conditions, relative humidity and fuel moisture levels. The forest also takes air quality into consideration.


The season traditionally runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 as weather permits. The burning operations are monitored and patrolled frequently to ensure public safety.


“Prescribed burning is an important tool for the forest to use for hazardous fuels reduction and forest health improvement, including wildlife habitat,” said Grindstone Fuels Officer Matt Ellis. “The fires are intended to be slow, low-intensity creeping fires on the forest floor. Although there are only a few opportunities for prescribed burns, they produce less smoke and there aren’t the resource impacts typically created by large wildfires.”


In addition to the pile burning in Chico, there are plans to burn additional piles across the Grindstone Ranger District. The district also plans to conduct prescribed burning activities on approximately 1,650 acres, including understory burning in Alder Springs, Oak Ridge and Little Stony, and a combination of pile burning and understory burning for vegetation type conversion maintenance.


On the other side of the Forest, the Upper Lake and Covelo Ranger Districts are also entering the fall prescribed burning season. There are plans to conduct prescribed burning activities in areas including Elk Mountain Road, Howard Mill, Deer Valley, Boardman Ridge, High Valley, Horse Mountain, Tar Flat, Newhouse Ridge, Pine Mountain, Lake Pillsbury, and the vicinity of the 2005 Hunter Fire (Buckhorn and Skidmore Ridge).


Selected campgrounds, guard stations and miscellaneous pile burning also will be included in the prescribed burning operations.


Prescribed burning announcements will be placed at local Ranger Stations prior to ignition.


For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest Grindstone Ranger District at 530-934-3316, the Upper Lake Ranger District at 707-275-2361 or visit www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino.


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