[9/21/16] A Look At Prescribed Burns Planned For This Fall

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With cooler temperatures here the official first day of fall this Thursday, fire managers on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest started their prescribed burn plans for this fall. They said their key goals for prescribed fire include continuing efforts to improve forest health and public safety by returning fire to local fire-adapted ecosystems. Burns are getting set up or already underway on all seven districts of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Close to 8,000 acres are on tap for this fall, but fire managers will always tell you that’s dependent on weather and forest conditions. They have to track temperature, wind, fuel moisture, ventilation for smoke and other important criteria.

Matt Ellis is Fire Management Officer for the Methow Ranger District and in charge of their prescribed burn plan…

092016 Prescribed Burns 1 :16 “…combination of forest restoration.”

Forest officials conduct prescribed burns during spring and fall months, when weather isn’t as hot and fuel is less dry. Ellis said that not only allows them to keep the fire under their control, but also provides the most benefit to the forest health…

092016 Prescribed Burns 2 :36 “…the day of ignition.”

Each burn is also coordinated with the National Weather Service and the state Department of Natural Resources to minimize the unavoidable impacts, such as smoke, said Michael Barajas, Assistant Fire Management Officer at the Wenatchee River Ranger District. He said they can also take advantage of commercial thinning and previous forest fires…

092016 Prescribed Burns 3 :33 “…sometimes it’s delayed.”

Barajas said they hope to burn about 1,100 acres throughout the Wenatchee River District during this fall’s burn season. The Fishpole project is 370 acres about a mile southwest of Fish Lake, the on-going Natapoc project includes 180 acres a couple miles west of Plain, and up to 580 acres could be on tap for the Chumstick Valley, north of Leavenworth.

Barajas added the district wants to do more burns in the future.

092016 Prescribed Burns 4 :22 “…to implement prescribed burns.”

Several planned burns this fall will be conducted collaboratively as a part of the Forest Resiliency Burning Pilot Project passed by the Washington State Legislature earlier this year. Kari Grover-Weir with the Chelan Ranger District said the pilot project provides two key benefits to their work…

092016 Prescribed Burns 5 :52 “…people we have to have there.”

Grover-Weir said the pilot program is also providing them more smoke monitors so they can better understand smoke movement and how prescribed burns impact local communities.

Residents and visitors throughout all seven districts of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest can expect to see and smell some smoke each day during burning operations. Prescribed burning began earlier this month and will continue – again, weather and conditions depending – into early November.