The spring prescribed burning program on the Lassen National Forest will soon be in full swing.
Burning will occur when weather conditions and other factors allow for safe and efficient burning. Dynamics such as air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and fuel moisture are used to determine the optimal time to burn. It is when conditions are within a certain range, in so-called “prescription,” that burn plans can be implemented.
In general, the goal of prescribed fire is to reduce the accumulation of fuels – including dead and fallen trees, dead branches, and brush – that can feed catastrophic wildfires. In addition to helping to restore fire-resilient forests, the reintroduction of fire into ecosystems also leads to improved conditions, in terms of understory productivity and vigor, and soil quality. As a result, forage for wildlife is renewed and more abundant.
Through a combination of prescribed fire and treatments to thin trees and vegetation, areas called Defensible Fuel Profile Zones are created. These zones are designed to improve fire suppression efforts, aid in the protection of communities adjacent to National Forest lands, and help restore the landscape to more closely mimic one exposed to the natural fire regime.
The Cone Fire, within the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest on the Eagle Lake Ranger District, demonstrated how stands that were thinned and prescribed burned had lower fire intensity and tree mortality compared to adjacent untreated stands.
Additional results from research showed that the fire rapidly reduced to a surface fire, and the lowest tree mortality was experienced in stands that were both thinned and prescribed burned.
Area residents and visitors can expect to see activity and equipment associated with the following Lassen National Forest prescribed burning projects this spring:
The Eagle Lake Ranger District is preparing to implement its prescribed fire program, with burning beginning as early as mid-April and potentially continuing into July, depending on weather conditions. To help reduce smoke emissions, the treatment areas have been mechanically thinned.
Approximately 2,000 acres of understory burning could occur in the following locations:
• Grays Flat area (70 acres);
• Butte Creek Campground/Bidwell Springs area (300 acres);
• Crater Mountain area (500 acres);
• Harvey Valley area (350 acres);
• Pegleg Mountain area (480 acres); and
• Dow Butte (300 acres).
Dow Butte is the only ELRD project area located within 10 miles of a community (approximately six miles north of Spaulding). Depending on weather conditions during the prescribed burning, smoke from this project could be visible from Susanville, the Eagle Lake Basin and while traveling on Highways 44 and 139.
For more information regarding ELRD plans, please contact Fuels Officer Chuck Lewis at 530-257-4188.
The Almanor Ranger District (ALRD) is planning on implementing one prescribed fire underburn project this spring, weather permitting:
• West Dusty DFPZ Project, 10 miles northwest of the town of Chester (up to 100 acres)
This project, located within previously harvested timber units, is designed to maintain this area as an effective fuel break. It will be implemented when conditions become favorable, after sufficient drying of the area has occurred to ensure satisfactory consumption of fuels. Smoke impacts are anticipated for the Feather River Rod and Gun, Feather River Homesites, Stump Ranch, and Chester areas.
Additional information is available by contacting ALRD District Fuels Officer Jeff St. Clair at 530-258-5141.
The Hat Creek Ranger District (HCRD) has plans for prescribed burning throughout the month of April. Burn plans are as follows:
• Blacks Ridge Project area, south of Forest Route 22, along the 35N09 Road (1000 acres); and
• North Coble Project area, along Forest Routes 18 and 22 (approximately 500 acres).
Smoke will likely be seen from the Hat Creek and Fall River Valleys. These burns are set to begin the second week of April and continue through the end of the month.
For more information on HCRD prescribed burning, you may contact Debbie Mayer, District Fire Management Officer, or Dale Newby, District Fuels Officer, at 530-336-5521.
Burning on all projects will take place on permissible burn days. In order to limit the amount of smoke in the air at any given time, prescribed burns will be coordinated with other public agencies and industrial landowners in the areas surrounding the burn locations.
The Lassen National Forest is committed to returning your forest to a more natural, fire resistant state through the combined use of mechanical treatment and prescribed fire.