PENDLETON, Ore. – With the recent warmer and drier weather, fire management officials on the Umatilla National Forest are preparing to implement early season prescribed burning activities as soon as Monday, May 13, across portions of the Forest.
“Frequent, low-intensity fire is essential for healthy forests and reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire caused by excessive fuel buildup,” said Andrew Stinchfield, Deputy Fire Staff Officer.
Prescribed burning is an effective tool for removing excessive amounts of brush, shrubs, and trees, while also encouraging the growth of native vegetation. In addition to reducing wildfire risk, prescribed fire also improves overall forest health and resilience to insects and diseases, and enhances habitat for elk, deer, and other wildlife.
Prescribed burning is also highly dependent on weather conditions, which have to be within a narrow criteria window in order to use prescribed fire. Factors such as wind speed and direction, temperatures, relative humidity, and fuel moistures are all taken into consideration prior to implementing a prescribed burn operation.
Each prescribed burn represents many years of planning and preparation to ensure burn operations meet prescriptive conditions that allow for successful burns that provide multiple benefits to resources. The forest works closely with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Washington Department of Natural Resources in accordance with the State’s Smoke Management Plans to determine when, where, and how much is burned on a daily basis. Potential smoke impacts, looking at volume of smoke, direction of spread, and mixing heights, are determined prior to each burn. All burns will be monitored until a season ending rain or snow occurs.
Early season burning operations typically begin in spring (or when the snow melts) and occur until the beginning of fire season. The Umatilla National Forest has developed a prescribed fire interactive map displaying planned burning activities, which is available at https://tinyurl.com/y8b433th. The interactive map allows the user to zoom in on certain areas and click on a burn unit for more information (such as acreage, status, etc). When burning operations begin the interactive map will be updated to display which burn units are actively burning. Maps of the proposed prescribed burns are also located on InciWeb at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5808/. Additional information on prescribed burning is available on the Umatilla National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla/ or at any forest office.
For more information about the Umatilla National Forest’s Prescribed Burn program, please contact one of the following Forest Service personnel:
Tara Mackleit, Pomeroy Ranger - (509) 843-4676
Joby Sciarrino, Walla Walla Ranger District - (509) 522-6283
Jesse Bohnsack, North Fork John Day Ranger District - (541) 427-5399
Kristen Marshall, Heppner Ranger District - (541) 676-2130