As conditions allow, specialists expect operations to continue for several weeks to months as they burn piles and previously cut juniper across approximately 1,200 acres. The material is leftover vegetation associated with a thinning project to prevent the possibility of high intensity crown fires in the wildland urban interface, restore old-growth juniper woodlands and shrub-steppe plant communities, and enhance riparian areas and ponderosa pine trees.
No road closures are anticipated with this project. However, smoke could be visible from Bend, Redmond, and Sisters. Smoke could impact visibility along Highway 126, the Cline Falls Highway, and on private land within and neighboring Eagle Crest Resort. Piles can be expected to smolder and burn for several days after ignition. If smoke drifts on to roads, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care. Once ignited, piles are monitored by firefighters until they are declared out.
While smoke may linger in residential areas, there is a real benefit to burning this type of vegetation. These projects are designed to remove hazardous fuels that can burn during summer wildfires; threatening lives and property, causing significant economic damage and creating longer-term smoke impacts to local communities.
Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs controlled burns, and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health. For more information, visit the Prineville BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/prineville/index.php