Starting this month, fire managers on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (OWNF) will begin prescribed fire projects with the goal of improving forest health and improving public safety.
Nearly 8,000 acres are planned for prescribed fire this fall, which includes 2,541 acres in the Methow Ranger District, according to a news release from OWNF.
Fewer acres may be treated on the forest if conditions are not favorable.
Prescribed fire is used to bring fire back to fire-adapted ecosystems, which have historically burned at regular intervals, according to OWNF.
“Restoration matters. The right fire at the right time, in the right place, is an incredibly effective way to have a healthier forest,” said Keith Satterfield, OWNF fire staff officer.
“Prescribed fire is one way we are actively working to help restore the land and safely serve our communities,” Satterfield said.
Burns planned for the Methow Valley include the “Goat” project, 1,070 acres 2 miles southeast of Mazama; “Lucky” project, 56 acres 6 miles northwest of Winthrop; “Eightmile Bottom” project, 479 acres 8 miles north of Winthrop; and “Upper Rendezvous” project, 936 acres 8 miles northwest of Winthrop.
To conduct the prescribed burns, conditions must include correct temperature, wind, fuel moisture and ventilation for smoke. When burns are conducted, crews monitor and patrol each burn to ensure it meets the forest health and public safety goals outlined by fire managers.
“Community smoke concerns are our concerns as well,” Satterfield said. “Each burn is coordinated with the National Weather Service and state Department of Natural Resources to minimize the unavoidable impacts, such as smoke, as much as possible.”
Residents and visitors can expect to see and smell some smoke each day during burning operations. For more information on smoke and public health, visit http://wasmoke.blogspot.com.
Several planned burns will be conducted collaboratively as a part of the Forestry Resilience Burning pilot project.
The pilot project examines the role of prescribed burning in creating healthier, more resilient forests.
Among other objectives, the pilot project aims to make it easier for fire managers to complete multi-day burns; fully inform the public of planned burns and projected effects; monitor how much smoke was forecast and how much was produced; and analyze fuel reductions and forest conditions before and after controlled burning.
Participants in this pilot include the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative, Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, and Washington Prescribed Fire Council.
More information about the pilot project is at www.putfiretowork.org.