Cow Meadow is located about 12 miles west of La Pine adjacent to Crane Prairie Reservoir. Though current weather is causing an extended fire season and public use restrictions, fuels specialists need to take advantage of these drier conditions in order to burn the grass-dominated vegetation within the wet meadow habitat.
No road closures are anticipated with this project. However, some smoke could be visible from Crane Prairie Reservoir, Cow Meadow Campground, and Forest Roads 46 (Cascade Lakes Highway), 40, and 4270. If smoke drifts on to roads, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care. Once ignited, units are monitored by firefighters until they are declared out.
This project is a partnership between the Forest Service and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that is supported by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Native meadow habitats were historically maintained by periodic fire which occurred on an approximate 1 to 35-year interval. These fires controlled the amount and distribution of encroaching trees, while maintaining native grasses and forbs. In 2011, encroaching coniferous trees were cut within Cow Meadow. Prescribed fire will now be used to reduce the remaining ground fuels and to also invigorate forbs and grasses, which benefit a variety of wildlife species, such as elk, insects, sandhill cranes, and other ground nesting birds.
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 Ochoco/Deschutes website at www.fs.usda.gov/centraloregon