JOHN DAY, PENDLETON, and BAKER CITY, Ore. (May 15, 2023) — Fire management officials on the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests are preparing to implement spring prescribed burning activities to reduce the risk of severe wildfire in the future.
Frequent, low-intensity fire is essential for healthy forests and reducing the risk of high intensity wildfire caused by excessive fuel buildup. Prescribed burning is an effective tool for removing excessive amounts of brush, shrubs, and trees, while also encouraging the growth of native vegetation. In addition to reducing wildfire risk, prescribed fire also improves overall forest health and resilience to insects and diseases, and enhances habitat for elk, deer, and other wildlife. Forest Service prescribed fire programs allows fire to play its natural role on the landscape under controlled conditions.
Prescribed burning is also highly dependent on weather conditions, which must be within a narrow criteria window to use prescribed fire. Factors such as wind speed and direction, temperatures, relative humidity, and fuel moistures are all taken into consideration prior to implementing a prescribed burn operation.
Each prescribed burn represents many years of planning and preparation to ensure burn operations meet prescriptive conditions that allow for successful burns that provide multiple benefits to resources. The forest works closely with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Washington Department of Natural Resources in accordance with the State’s Smoke Management Plans to determine when, where, and how much is burned on a daily basis. Potential smoke impacts, looking at volume of smoke, direction of spread, and mixing heights, are determined prior to each burn. All burns will be monitored until no heat is found within the unit and fire managers declare the burn out.
Prescribed fire information for the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests is available to the public on a tri-forest online map. The map is labeled and color-coded to show each burn unit’s status: planned, active, or completed. Additionally, forest users can view other features including current and past-year burn units, National Forest boundaries and State wildlife management boundaries.
To learn more about current and planned prescribed fires in the area, please visit:
- Online prescribed fire map for the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests (example image below)
- Blue Mountain Prescribed Fire Council Blog
- Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center
- John Day Interagency Dispatch Center and Burns Interagency Communication Center
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