Southwest OR— The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is planning to conduct more visible prescribed burns this week, depending on weather conditions. Follow our social media accounts indicated above for updates on planned burn activities as they progress.
Tomorrow, the High Cascades Ranger District, with support from Grayback Forestry, is planning to burn on the south side of Hwy 821 (Butte Falls-Fishlake Hwy) north of Willow Lake. The burn is estimated to take place between the hours of 9:30 and 4:30 p.m.with smoke potentially visible from Butte Falls. This 70-acre burn is in the Clarks Fork planning area and will reduce hazardous fuels in the Big Butte Springs Municipal Watershed, the principal water source for the Medford Water Commission.
The Big Butte Springs are the primary source of drinking water for the City of Medford and surrounding communities.
On Friday, the Wild Rivers Ranger District is planning another prescribed burn to reduce hazardous fuels in Waters Creek for a total of 270 acres. The plan is to get most of the burning done on Friday, burning a small portion as needed on Saturday prior to predicted rains on Saturday evening and Sunday. The burn unit is located northwest of the Waters Creek Trail. This burn is a smaller piece of a larger hazardous fuels reduction project known as Butcherknife Slate, a priority area identified for hazardous fuels reduction because it lies within the Wildland Urban Interface or “WUI” near Grants Pass. The WUI is where federal and private lands lie adjacent to each other, and threats from wildfire to local communities tend to be the greatest.
All prescribed burns are thoroughly planned and require a strict approval process for smoke management, fire safety, and ecological outcomes before professional staff light any fire on the ground. During burning operations, fire personnel carefully monitor weather conditions to minimize smoke impacts and to keep the fire in control. The spring and fall seasons are the best times of years to light a prescribed burn, as the fuels are in the right condition to burn without the fire getting too intense. This is achieved by creating a “cool” fire that stays on the ground and burns slowly through the vegetation.
Public land managers use prescribed burning to reduce the risks of large wildfires. These controlled burns decrease the amount of dry, flammable vegetation that can fuel fire growth.
Landscapes maintained by the right amount and kind of fire are typically better for wildlife and native plants and therefore create landscapes that are “healthier,” or more resilient, from an ecological perspective.
These burns are carried out by trained firefighters, who burn within “units” that have fire breaks along all their boundaries. They keep equipment nearby to ensure the flames don’t escape the unit. Fire breaks can include natural and human-made features (such as pre-dug fire lines).