Prescribed burns near La Pine, Prineville

POSTED: 9:26 AM PDT April 2, 2013    UPDATED: 9:29 AM PDT April 2, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

As spring-like weather continues across Central Oregon, Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest Service fuels specialists intend to begin burning in two separate locations; 15 miles west of La Pine near Wickiup Reservoir and 16 miles northeast of Prineville adjacent to Mill Creek. 

Beginning Tuesday, specialists with the Deschutes National Forest expect to burn approximately 62 acres along Forest Road 44 to reduce the number of lodgepole pine which will improve the health of the Ponderosa pine forest and its ability to withstand and recover from events such as fire, insects and disease. 

Ignitions are expected to take place today only.  Smoke will likely be visible from the Haner Park, Ponderosa Estates, and Wild River Estates subdivisions as well as along Burgess Road.  Smoke could also be visible from La Pine and Sunriver.

On Wednesday, specialists with the Ochoco National Forest intend to burn approximately 275 acres along Forest Road 33 near Wildcat Campground to improve winter range for big game, forage for livestock as well as improve the health of a Ponderosa pine forest. 

Ignitions are expected to take 1 – 2 days.  Smoke is expected to travel into the Mill Creek Wilderness but could settle along Forest Road 33.  Highway 26 will be monitored for smoke impacts.    

There are more than just ecological benefits to burning this type of vegetation.  These projects are designed to remove hazardous fuels that can burn during summer wildfires.  Additionally, both areas are identified for treatment in Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs; Upper Deschutes River Coalition and Crook County, respectively). 

No road closures are anticipated with either project. However, if smoke drifts on to local roads, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care.  Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed burns, and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.  Once ignited, units are monitored and patrolled until they are declared out. 

For more information, visit the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center website at http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/fire/