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PLACERVILLE, Calif. February 26, 2020 – Fire management staff on the Eldorado National Forest plan to burn 90 acres near Georgetown beginning Wednesday, February 26, if weather conditions allow. Burning may continue on Thursday depending on how operations progress.  

The area to be burned is part of the Tobacco Gulch Ecological Restoration Project, located approximately 3 miles east of Georgetown in the vicinity of Darling Ridge. Smoke will be visible from Mosquito, Kelsey, and Georgetown east of Highway 193. Smoke may also be visible as far away as Highway 50 and Folsom, but should not be cause for alarm.

The public can monitor smoke from the project by using the fire cameras on the Tahoe Alert Wildfire website at http://www.alertwildfire.org/tahoe/.  Traces of smoke will still be visible for several days after ignitions are completed while larger fuels continue to smolder.

The goal of the Tobacco Gulch prescribed fire is to enhance community wildfire protection for nearby homes and businesses by reducing hazardous fuels. Other benefits of prescribed fire include improving wildlife habitat and reintroducing fire into a fire-dependent ecosystem.

“Prescribed fire is one of many tools we are using to treat the vegetation across this landscape,” said District Ranger Jason Sieg. “This project also involves commercial and non-commercial thinning, mastication, hand thinning and piling, and pile burning. We are working in a wildland urban interface zone where national forest system lands are intermixed with private property.”

The Tobacco Gulch project includes 1,406 acres of prescribed fire, 1,385 acres of mechanical treatment, and 907 acres of invasive plant management. Some areas of the project were treated in the past, and are being burned to keep the fuel load from building back up.

The project is part of the Tahoe‐Central Sierra Initiative (TCI) which is using innovative strategies to increase the pace and scale of restoration across watersheds in the central Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe areas. Large portions of the project are being implemented by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) through a master stewardship agreement with the Forest Service, a partnership with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and grant funding from CAL FIRE.

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“The National Wild Turkey Federation is proud to partner with the Eldorado National Forest on this critical forest health project,” said Kevin Vella, District Biologist with NWTF. “This project helps create forest conditions that are much more resilient to high intensity wildfire, as well as the risk of insects and disease. The areas where we’ve treated the forest can now support renewed growth of grasses, forbs and shrubs – all of which are crucial elements in providing quality habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife.” 

The Tobacco Gulch burn is one of many prescribed fire projects planned for the 2019-2020 prescribed burn season. As of Februray 6, there have been 4,217 acres of prescribed fire accomplished throughout the Eldorado National forest, since the new fiscal year began on October 1, 2019. 

Updates on the Tobacco Gulch Prescribed Fire will be posted on the forest twitter account at www.twitter.com/eldoradonf. Additional information about the prescribed burn program on the Eldorado National Forest can be found on the forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado.