Willamette National Forest initiates prescribed fall burns

The Willamette National Forest has initiated fall prescribed fire operations as weather patterns shift to cooler temperatures and wetter conditions. 

Public notice of specific burn times may only be announced 24 hours in advance and often the morning of the burn. 

“The public may see smoke or smell fire in various areas of the forest from prescribed fire activities over the next several months. Generally, prescribed fires take place from October through April,” said Assistant Fire Management Officer Chris Donaldson. “We make every effort to lessen the impact of smoke on neighboring communities.” 

Prescribed fire reduces hazardous fuels, which protects communities from extreme fires; minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease; removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem; provides forage for game; improves habitat for threatened and endangered species; recycles nutrients back to the soil; and promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants.

Prescribed fire may have some short-term impacts on air quality levels. Some smoke may linger, especially in the evenings following a burn as temperatures cool and cause settling in the valley bottoms. Smoke is a natural byproduct of fire, and some amounts are unavoidable. The Forest Service complies with all local, state, and federal air quality regulations, and coordination with local air quality regulators will take place. Be cautious when traveling on forest roads as fire personnel will frequently travel these roads to carry water to the burn and to check the burn status.

Relevant hazards and safety of the public, firefighters and other Forest Service employees are assessed and addressed during the planning and implementation of each prescribed fire. Additionally, wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, and measurable moisture in vegetation are all taken into consideration.

Watch this video to learn more about prescribed fire: Good Fire: Prescribed Burning – YouTube. 

Visit go.usa.gov/xMFnd to view an interactive prescribed fire map, or follow the Willamette National Forest on Facebook and Twitter @WillametteNF for prescribed fire updates, or Sweet Home Ranger Station at (541) 367-5168 for local information.