Tahoe National Forest will begin a prescribed underburn near French Meadows Reservoir with ignitions starting as early as Oct. 11, 2023. Smoke will be visible from the French Meadows area and possibly North Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas. Smoke impacts will be carefully monitored, and efforts will be taken to reduce impacts to communities.

The planned burn is part of the French Meadows Forest Restoration Project, a 28,000-acre forest health project aiming to improve forest resilience and reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire in the headwaters of the American River. The project has been developed by a diverse group of partners including Tahoe National Forest, Placer County Water Agency, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Placer County, American River Conservancy and Sierra Nevada Research Institute. 

Incident updates and any schedule changes will be announced on Tahoe National Forest’s InciWeb: https://inciweb.wildfire.gov/incident-information/catnf-french-meadows-rice-creek-underburn

French Meadows Prescribed Underburn – Rice Creek Unit

American River Ranger District

Legal Location: Township 15 N Range 14 E

Section(s): 11

Acres: 262.5

Ignition Dates: As early as 10/11, conditions permitting

Why Are We Burning?

The goal of this prescribed burn is to decrease the existing fire hazard and to

prevent and reduce the impact of future fires in the area. Other benefits include

enhancing wildlife habitat and reintroducing fire into a fire-adapted ecosystem.

Why Now?

Current conditions allow for prescribed burning. Each prescribed fire operation

follows a prescribed fire burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke.

This information is used to decide when and where to burn. The Tahoe National Forest strives to give as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice.


Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions. Smoke may settle into the valleys in the evening and lift in the morning. The Tahoe National Forest coordinates with state and local county air pollution control districts and monitors weather conditions closely prior to prescribed fire ignition. Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively fuels are consumed and how smoke will travel.