BAKER CITY, Ore. — As cooler, wetter weather descends on Eastern Oregon, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest will begin implementing its fall prescribed burning program. Prescribed fire managers are prepared to implement hazardous fuel reduction burns at many project sites across the National Forest. Please note that weather and other site-specific conditions will influence whether projects can be implemented, where and when prescribed burning occurs, and how many acres can be treated.
This fall, Wallowa-Whitman prescribed fire information is available to the public on a new interactive map. To access the interactive map, please visit https://go.usa.gov/xVseH.
Over the last five years, the Forest has increased prescribed burning by 20 percent. Prescribed fire has a wide variety of benefits, including reducing dead and down fuels, thinning understory trees, stimulating fire-tolerant plants, enhancing forage and browse, reducing the risk of stand-replacement fires, and creating strategic fuel breaks in urban-interface areas. Fire history studies have shown that fire has long been a dominant natural process in the Blue Mountains — maintaining open, park-like conditions in low- to mid-elevation forests of ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and larch. The Wallowa-Whitman’s prescribed fire program allows fire fire to play. It’s natural on the landscape under controlled conditions.
“By getting good fire back into the forest, we’re protecting communities while restoring and sustaining the land,” forest Fuels Program Manager Steve Hawkins said. “We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of our stakeholders as we work toward our shared goal of healthy landscapes in Eastern Oregon.”
Hazardous fuels reduction is not without impacts. Smoke associated with prescribed burning is challenging to forecast and can be a concern for vulnerable populations. Managers work closely with the Oregon State Smoke Forecast Center on a daily basis to determine when, where, and how much to burn. If a forecast predicts that a burn will significantly impact a community or smoke-sensitive area, it will be rescheduled to a more favorable date.
The Wallowa-Whitman could burn up to 15,000 acres across the forest this fall as conditions allow. The areas listed below are prioritized. To access maps of the burn units, please visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/maps/6289/
The Wallowa Fire Zone (WFZ) – (541) 426-4978 (Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Hells Canyon NRA and Eagle Cap Ranger District). The WFZ plans to conduct prescribed burning on up to 11,500 acres this fall, which may include:
· Chesnimus Elk (1,992 acres) – 30 miles northeast of Enterprise, Ore.
· B-Vine (2,259 acres) – 30 miles north/northeast of Enterprise, Ore.
· Muddy Sled (2,367 acres) – 20 miles north of Enterprise, Ore.
· Cold Canal (1,570 acres) – 20 miles southeast of Joseph, Ore.
· Puderbaugh (3,293 acres) – 25 miles southeast of Joseph, Ore.
The Grande Ronde Fire Zone (GRFZ) – (541) 963-7186 (La Grande Ranger District). The GRFZ plans to conduct prescribed burning on up to 4,000 acres this fall, which may include:
· Horse Fly (621 acres) – 13 miles southwest of La Grande, Ore. near Vey Meadows and Blue Springs
· Trail (714 acres) – 8 miles northwest of La Grande, Ore. near Mount Emily
· Birdtrack (2,120 acres) – 9 miles west of La Grande, Ore. in the Spring Creek area
· Sandbox (744 acres) – 12 miles southeast of Union, Ore. near Catherine Creek Sno-Park
Please note that where and when burning occurs, and how many acres are treated within a project area, may vary due to weather, fuel conditions, smoke dispersion, and other variables. It is anticipated that not all areas will be within prescription and will not be implemented this fall, while other project areas may have additional acres within prescription that may be implemented.
For more information about the Wallowa-Whitman prescribed burning program, visit https://go.usa.gov/xVseH or contact Steve Hawkins at (541) 523-1262. Additional information is available on the Wallowa-Whitman 2019 Prescribed Fire InciWeb site at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6289.
For further information, please contact:
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Supervisor Office at (541) 523-6391.