BOULDER, Colo. – (Mar. 12, 2015) U.S. Forest Service firefighters with the assistance of a 10-person AmeriCorps NCCC team are taking advantage of existing and forecasted snow to burn large piles located east of Gold Lake and small slash piles located two miles west of Gold Hill. AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) places thousands of young adults into full-time community service programs.
Conditions for pile burning are evaluated each day to determine if ignition will take place. Ignitions typically begin between 10 and 11 a.m. Wind, fuel moisture, staffing and the amount of snow cover all play a factor in where and whether ignition occurs. Personnel remain on scene during ignition. The monitoring of lit piles occurs daily and areas are patrolled until piles are declared “out.”
Other potential areas where slash burning could occur in future days include:
· Johnny Park Road (hand piles southwest of Big Elk Meadows)
· Lee Hill Road and Peak View Drive (these areas contain small slash piles along the National Forest Boundary with private land).
To receive updates on pile burning activities in the Boulder Ranger District area email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-541-2532.
La Grande District Ranger Gamble signs Bird Track Springs Fuel Reduction Project
A mix of treatments over the next 10 years, including forest thinning, prescribed burning and firewood gathering, will help to enhance the resiliency of 16,000 acres of forest surrounding developed recreation areas and private lands from wildfire and other natural disturbances,
making them safer for residents and visitors alike.
Treatment activities have already begun with the application of prescribed fire on approximately 500 acres this past week.
“This project offers a diversity of benefits for the land and the public that use and enjoys the area. We look forward to providing a variety of forestry contracting opportunities aimed at improving forest conditions and working with our public to assist with reducing fuels through
special firewood gathering opportunities. ” said Bill Gamble, La Grande District Ranger for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
Gamble signed the decision notice January 21, 2015 that will allow 2,461 acres of fuel reduction and stand density management work and 8,851 acres of prescribed burning within the 16,082-acre tract in and around the Bird Track Springs and Spring Creek campgrounds west of La Grande.
Planned activities include a small timber sale, 734 acres of fuel reduction work to be accomplished by hand, 454 acres of fuel reduction work to be completed mechanically (grapple piling or slashbuster), 125 acres of natural fuels thinning work which will be available to the public for firewood removal, 8,851 acres of prescribed burning, and 1,088 acres of precommercial thinning. These treatments include work around the Bird Track Springs and Spring Creek Campgrounds.
The purpose of the project is to improve forest health, modify fire behavior potential, reintroduce fire as a disturbance factor on the landscape, improve public safety, and protect values at risk on both public and privately owned land.
Historically, the majority of fires in dry mixed conifer forests like those represented in the project area occurred in late July to September. Ignitions were most often caused by lighting and occurred in the driest conditions, controlling regeneration of fire-intolerant species, reducing density of small-diameter trees, reducing ladder fuels and consuming surface litter and down wood.
The structure in these stands generally consisted of open, predominately widely spaced medium to large old fire tolerant trees with continuous grass and herbaceous understory vegetation. Crown fires occurred rarely under these stand conditions and natural disturbance regimes.
In the past 100 years, management practices combined with aggressive wildfire suppression activities have allowed the buildup of ground vegetation and small diameter understory trees, commonly referred to as surface and ladder fuels. In a wildfire, these fuels can carry a surface or ground fire into the forest canopy – a crown fire – which is very difficult and dangerous to extinguish.
These altered conditions contribute to increased probability of unnaturally severe wildfires, susceptibility to uncharacteristic insect outbreaks, and drought related impact to the forest. While Northeast Oregon has a high wildfire occurrence rate, primarily due to lightning activity that occurs during the summer months and hunter fires ignited during the fall big game hunting seasons, the fire occurrence rate for the Bird Track Springs project area is 7 percent higher than the normal occurrence rate for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Recent forest science and application of similar treatments elsewhere across the western United States has shown the benefits of the described activities in restoring more resilient forest conditions.