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Foresthill, Calif., April 29,2021 —Last week, the U.S. Forest Service successfully treated 728 acres with prescribed fire near Foresthill, Calif. The prescribed fire was part of the Deadwood Project designed to remove hazardous fuels on the Tahoe National Forest along Foresthill Road. Ignitions were completed last Wednesday, but the prescribed fire perimeter is still monitored and patrolled twice daily.

“This latest round of prescribed fire within the Deadwood Project further demonstrates our commitment to reducing fuels and protecting the communities surrounding Foresthill,” said Brian Crawford, a Tahoe National Forest Fuels Officer. “Like most forest resilience projects, the Deadwood Project is reducing the risk of wildfire by removing excessive hazardous fuels.

“The Project also provides for future emergency access along Foresthill Road in the event of a wildfire incident. The reduction in fuels gives wildland firefighters operational ingress while simultaneously allowing for emergency egress of residents should an evacuation occur.”

Crawford is one of several Tahoe National Fuels Officers charged with planning and implementing prescribed fires. He also served as the Burn Boss during the prescribed fire last week, the top tactical position within a prescribed fire organization structure and similar to an Incident Commander during a wildfire incident.  

It can take years to accomplish a prescribed fire from the initial planning and environmental analysis, to ground preparations, to finding the safest and most effective time to begin ignitions through fuel and weather monitoring.

Impacts from a prescribed fire such as smoke do occur, but they are far less than during a wildlife incident –the very thing the Deadwood project is reducing the likelihood of.

“Smoke from prescribed burns, especially those from large projects, are more visible to the public,” emphasized Erik White, Placer County Air Pollution Control Officer. Air Pollution Control District staff continues to collaborate and work with land managers, like the U.S. Forest Service, to minimize smoke impacts while a prescribed burn takes place. “This awareness now more than ever has people concerned with their health and welfare especially after last year’s widespread wildfire smoke impacts.

“However, managing smoke impacts through prescribed fire is significantly more protective of public health when compared with the massive emissions that come from wildfires,” continued White.

Many Forest Service employees live in communities that have been or have the potential to be affected by large wildfires, including Tahoe National Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano. “I appreciate both the hard work our employees and partners are doing to reduce the risks of catastrophic fire; and the support and patience of nearby communities that sometimes are impacted for short periods by this work,” said Ilano.

“Research and experience have shown that our continued forest resilience work, including prescribed fire, will significantly reduce future large wildfire incidents by creating a healthier, more resilient forest.”