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Weather Looks Good for Prescribed Burning

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

With the fall season upon us, area residents and visitors to the Lassen National Forest might start to notice some smoke in the air as the prescribed burning program gets underway. Projects will be implemented as weather conditions allow for safe and efficient burning. This means air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and fuel moisture must be in the desired range.


• To reduce hazardous fuels (dead and fallen trees, dead branches, and brush) that can feed catastrophic wildfires, such as the recent fires across the west,

• To restore fire-resilient forests by reintroducing fire to ecosystems, thereby helping to return the landscape to one that more closely mimics the natural fire regime, and

• To improve ecological services, via the nutrients released back into the soil from consumed fuels, leading to greater understory productivity and more forage for wildlife.

These burning projects offer tangible benefits to nearby communities since they are also used to help create Defensible Fuel Profile Zones (DFPZs), areas where a combination of thinning treatments and prescribed fire are used to remove highly-flammable vegetation. DFPZs are designed to improve fire suppression efforts during a wildfire.

Research has shown that both fire intensity and tree mortality are reduced in stands that are both thinned and prescribe-burned when compared to adjacent untreated stands. The Cone Fire, within the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest on the Eagle Lake Ranger District, is one such example.


Three precautions will be taken to minimize the amount of smoke in the air. First, burning will only take place on permissible burn days. Second, the treatment

areas will have been mechanically thinned to help reduce smoke emissions. Finally, the Forest will coordinate with other public agencies and industrial landowners in the areas surrounding the burn locations to help limit the smoke present in the air at any one time.


Area residents and visitors can expect to see fire equipment and smoke activity associated with the following projects on the three districts of the Lassen this fall:

The Eagle Lake Ranger District will implement a total of approximately 1,600 acres of understory burning in the following locations, as early as September and possibly continuing through December:

• Grays Flat area: 70 acres

• Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest: 110 acres

• Crater Mountain area: 600 acres

• Harvey Valley area: 500 acres

• Dow Butte: 300 acres. Dow Butte is the only project area located within 10 miles of a community (approximately six miles north of Spaulding). Depending on weather conditions during the prescribed burning, smoke could be visible from Susanville, the Eagle Lake Basin, and while traveling on Highways 44 and 139.

In addition to the above treatments, burning of approximately 300 acres of landing piles and 100 acres of hand piles are planned throughout the Eagle Lake Ranger District. These will occur after there has been significant rain or snowfall.


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