Forest to start Spring burns
April 20, 2019
The McKenzie River Ranger District is preparing for its spring prescribed burns as early as Wednesday 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 Tokatee Golf Club off Hwy 126; Camp Yale off Hwy 242; Robinson Lake; Foley Ridge; Olallie Creek; and Castle Rock off King Rd.
“Be cautious when traveling on forest roads as the amount of traffic will increase,” said Willamette National Forest Acting Assistant Fire Management Officer Randy Pyle. “Fire personnel will be driving these roads frequently to carry water to the burns and to check the status of the burns.”
Prescribed burn operations will be initiated as weather patterns shift to cooler temperatures and wetter conditions. Wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity and measurable moisture in vegetation are all taken into consideration. Because prescribed burning is dependent upon weather conditions, public notice of specific burn times may only come 24 hours in advance, and oftentimes, the morning of the burn.
Over the next several months, the public may see smoke or smell fire in various areas surrounding the McKenzie River Ranger District. Every effort is made to lessen the impact of smoke from prescribed burns through careful planning and preparation. Smoke, however, is a natural byproduct of fire, and some amounts are unavoidable. Some smoke may linger especially in the evenings following a burn as temperatures cool and cause settling in the valley bottoms. Additionally, prescribed burns may have some short-term impacts on air quality levels. The Forest Service will comply with all local, state and federal air quality regulations, and coordination with local air quality regulators will take place.
Prescribed burning reduces hazardous fuels which protects 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. Additionally, the prescribed burning program at McKenzie River Ranger District allows fire crews to train and prepare for the upcoming fire season. This gives them the skills to safely and successfully manage wildfires across the nation.
In preparation for the burns, crews are building and clearing fire lines, laying out fire hose around the units and checking fuel moistures and weather forecasts regularly for a perfect window of opportunity. Once the temperature, humidity, wind and fuel moistures align, fire crews ignite the specific burn areas. One group of firefighters will light the unit in a strategic pattern determined by slope and wind direction. Another group patrols the fire line on foot and sprays down fuels outside the unit with water to ensure the fire stays contained within the burn area. After the smoke clears, crews will spend up to a week putting out smokes in the unit to secure it for the rest of the season.
McKenzie River Reflections