National forest plans prescribed burns

More than 8,000 acres of prescribed burning is planned beginning this fall and through the spring on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Prescribed burning is intended to improve forest health by reintroducing the role of fire, improving habitat for wildlife and lessening the chances for a catastrophic wildfire by reducing the woody material on the forest floor, said forest spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons.

All told, if the weather permits, the burning would include some 6,000 acres of hand-pile burning and nearly 2,400 acres of under-burning, she said.

Often done in the fall, under-burning is a low-intensity ground fire intended to replicate a natural wildfire that does not torch forest stands. Under-burning is used to remove small trees and brush while not harming larger trees.

Pile burning is simply burning piles of debris that have been stacked earlier in the year and covered by a waterproof material.

The planned burning will occur only on days when the Oregon Smoke Management Office gives the agency the green light, she said. The forest staff also works with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the National Weather Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry in planning the burns.

The specific date of any individual burn also depends upon weather, fuel moisture and crew availability, making it difficult to predict more than a day or two ahead of time exactly when the burning will occur, she said.

Firefighters and fire-suppression vehicles will be on hand in the event they are needed.

A small amount of the burning began late last month with the end of fire season, she noted.

Forest areas slated for burning include 3,300 acres in the Wild Rivers Ranger District, 2,460 acres in the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District, 1,275 acres in the High Cascades Ranger District, 806 acres in the Powers District and 549 acres in the Gold Beach District.

Some of the planned burning will occur in the spring of 2014, depending on weather conditions, officials said.

A portion of the burning projects on the forest are being funded primarily by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars, Gibbons noted.

For a daily updated recording of prescribed burning on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest or the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District, call 541-618-2354 or 800-267-3126.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.


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