The U.S. Forest Service has announced plans for fall prescribed burning on the Methow Valley and Tonasket ranger districts. Fire managers plan to treat about 500 acres across the Wolf Creek, Fawn Creek and Eightmile Creek drainages by underburning. There are brush piles to be burned in the Cub Creek, Chewuch River, Mt. Hull, Bonaparte Lake, Bailey Mountain and Lost Creek areas, the Forest Service said.
Some units include debris created by thinning projects, as well as areas of debris that have accumulated in the absence of fire.
“After a century of actively suppressing fire in our national forests, the amount of debris on the ground in many of these units is uncharacteristically high, and one of the important tools for getting them back to a healthy state is prescribed burning,” said Meg Trebon, Assistant Fire Management Officer for Fuels on the Methow Valley Ranger District. “In these low-elevation areas, fires were historically frequent and burned with generally low intensity. They effectively limited understory tree growth and eliminated ground debris on a regular basis. We now use prescribed fire and thinning to replicate this natural process.”
Previously treated areas were integral in this year’s firefighting efforts, the Forest Service said. On the Tonasket Ranger District, burnout operations were successful for the Tunk Block and North Star Fires because thinning and prescribed burning had already occurred. On the Methow Valley Ranger District, crews were able to safely construct direct fireline in the Little Bridge Creek area because similar treatments helped to lower fire intensity, which also reduced tree mortality and soil heating and helped limit overall fire growth in the area, according to the Forest Service.
“Crews also had improved options for safe and effective firefighting in the Squaw Creek and McFarland Creek area within the Black Canyon fire,” said Trebon. “They used recent treatment areas as safe anchor points for suppression and were successful with burnout operations because prior fuel treatments reduced fire intensity.”
Burning this fall will only take place when conditions such as humidity, wind direction, speed, and fuel moistures make it safe and effective to burn and when approval for burning has been granted by Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Even after receiving burn approval, fire specialists continuously coordinate with Washington state’s air quality managers about the best timing and locations for conducting prescribed burning.
For more information, call Trebon at 996-4032.