Controlled burns scheduled on federal forests

Thousands of acres will be subjected to understory burning to reduce wildfire risk

Nearly 4,000 acres of controlled burns are scheduled for this spring on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Some 2,450 acres will be burned on the Medford District while about 1,376 acres will be burned on the national forest.

The agencies largely will employ understory burning intended to mimic a low-intensity wildfire by burning the ground fuels without harming mature trees. The burning improves forest health by reducing the risk of insect and disease outbreaks and increasing soil productivity. It also reduces the threat of wildfires near the urban-wildland interface, officials said.

"We are actively committed to reducing fuels across the landscape to protect lives, property and resources," Tom Murphy, fire management officer for the BLM's Medford District, said in a prepared statement. "It is essential that we manage our forests to reduce the potential for a large uncontrolled wildfire."

Rob Budge, a deputy fire staff officer for the forest, agreed.

"Allowing periodic, low-intensity fires to be reintroduced in southwest Oregon helps not only the health of our forest but will also help reduce fire hazards," he said. "Using these prescribed burns or controlled burns to thin out a forest that is crowded with densely packed trees and overgrown brush will help ensure the safety of homes and structures that are in outlying areas and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires."

The controlled burns are allowed only on days when conditions will let the fire burn safely while blowing smoke away from populated areas. The land resource agencies work with the Oregon Smoke Management Office, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the National Weather Service.

Planned controlled burns on the BLM district this spring include 900 acres in the Grants Pass Resource Area, 800 acres in the Ashland Resource Area, 450 acres in the Butte Falls Resource Area and 370 acres in the Glendale Resource Area. Another 250 acres of piled debris will be burned in the Butte Falls area.

Controlled burns and hand-pile burning on the national forest include 104 acres on the High Cascades Ranger District, 525 acres on the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District, 620 acres on the Wild Rivers Ranger District and 127 acres on the Gold Beach Ranger District.

For a daily updated recording about the spring burning program, call the interagency prescribed fire information number at 618-2354 or 1-800-267-3126.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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