Editor’s note: The Deadwood underburn is starting today. Expect smoke to be visible from I-80. Foresthill, Baker Ranch and Michigan Bluff will also see the smoke.

Foresthill, California October 4, 2019 – The American River Ranger District on the Tahoe National Forest has begin conducting prescribed fire operations for the fall 2019 burn season. Burning will continue through the fall and winter seasons if conditions continue to allow resource managers and specialists to reduce hazardous fuels and to re-establish healthy forest ecosystems. Fall precipitation and cooler temperatures are ideal for prescribed fire operations. Planned prescribed burning projects include low-to-moderate intensity burns of vegetation on the forest floor and burning of stacked woody material (piles) from timber harvest and forest fuels reduction projects.

The goals of these projects are to reduce the severity of future wildfires, restore forest health and diversity, and provide added protection for communities in the wildland urban interface. Prescribed fire will help to promote a more fire and pest resilient forest and improve habitat for wildlife. The Forest Service is also working to reduce dense stands of trees and brush using mechanical and hand thinning of vegetation throughout the Tahoe National Forest. All of these methods are important tools the organization uses to promote forest health and to reduce the size and frequency of high intensity wildfires.

Prescribed fire projects are conducted in accordance with an approved prescribed fire burn plan. Burn plans identify specific conditions under which burns will be conducted, including weather, number of personnel, and techniques to minimize smoke impacts. This information is used to decide when and where it is appropriate to burn.

The following is a list of prescribed fire projects currently planned for this fall:

North Divide: at Humbug Ridge Area – 600 acres of understory burning, aerial ignition may be used. Humbug Ridge is approximately 12 miles northeast of Foresthill.

Dead Wood: near Foresthill Genetics Center – 1200 acres of understory burning along Foresthill Divide Road. Project begins approximately 4 miles northeast of Foresthill and continues to the Sugar Pine reservoir (10) road.

Biggie: Near Big Trees Grove. 100 acres of hand pile burning. This will reduce the volume and density of continuous ladder fuels present in the project area.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after ignition depending on the project size. Smoke will settle in low-lying areas in the morning and usually lifts out of an area during the day. All prescribed fires are monitored closely for burning and smoke dispersal conditions and, if necessary, action is taken to mitigate concerns as they arise. Forest Service fire managers coordinate with state and local air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions closely prior to prescribed fire ignition. They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke away from densely populated areas. Crews also conduct test ignitions before lighting a larger area to verify how effectively fuels are consumed and how smoke will travel.

Fire managers are aware of and sensitive to the potential impact smoke and prescribed fire operations has on people and communities. Every effort is made to conduct prescribed fire operations during weather patterns that carry smoke away from populated areas and to notify the public of potentially unsafe conditions. The wildfires of recent memory are a reminder of the importance of fuels reduction and that smoke produced during a prescribed fire is less intense and of shorter duration than that of a large wildfire. Fire is a natural part of the Sierra ecosystem. Our prescribed fire program is very important for the land, the public, and firefighters. A little smoke now could prevent a lot of smoke later.
For more information call Brian Crawford at (530) 367-2224×227. For more information on prescribed fire on the Tahoe National Forest visit www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe.

If you would like to learn about prescribed fire vs. wildfire, please visit http://www.smokeybear.com/prescribed-fires.asp.