The Mendocino National Forest is once again entering prescribed burning season.
The public may notice smoke in various parts of the forest during the next few months as part of the continued commitment to protect communities and natural resources from wildfires.
Forest visitors, including hunters, are asked to be aware of their surroundings and watch for prescribed burning operations to maintain personal safety. Areas where prescribed burning operations are taking place will be well signed and there will be increased fire personnel in the area. If visitors are uncertain, they are encouraged to contact the Forest at 530-934-3316 before their visit to see where prescribed burns are planned for the day.
As cooler weather and higher humidity move in, there is an opportunity to bring fire into the forest in a controlled setting. Prescribed fires are used to clear the forest floor of small fuels and brush without burning or killing large trees.
Prescribed burns are conducted when there is a window of opportunity and specific conditions and criteria are met before, and will be sustained, during and after the burn. These include temperature, wind conditions, relative humidity and fuel moisture levels. The Forest also takes air quality into consideration.
“Prescribed burning is an important tool for the Forest to use for hazardous fuels reduction and forest health improvement, including wildlife habitat,” said Grindstone Ranger District Fire Management Officer Matt Ellis. “The fires are intended to be slow, low-intensity creeping fires on the forest floor. Although there are only a few opportunities for prescribed burns, they produce less smoke and there aren’t the resource impacts typically created by large wildfires.”
The season traditionally runs from early October through spring as weather permits. The burning operations are monitored and patrolled frequently to ensure public safety.
During the prescribed burning season, fire crews also burn piles of wood debris and fuel that are the result of fuel reduction activities in the forest. The Grindstone Ranger District also plans to burn piles in the Ocean View area west of Forest Highway 7 with operations starting as soon as next week, conditions permitting.
In addition to Ocean View, there are plans to burn additional piles across the Grindstone Ranger District during this fall and winter. The focus right now is to get to higher elevation sites before they become inaccessible due to snow and poor road conditions. District staff are planning to conduct prescribed burning activities on approximately 2,500 acres, including understory burning near Alder Springs and Ivory Mill.
On the west side of the Forest, prescribed burning is planned for the following general areas on the Upper Lake Ranger District: Along Elk Mountain Road, in the areas of Howard Mill, along the 17N39 Road in the Willow Creek area, along the M10 Northeast of the Three Crossings area, Boardman Ridge, High Valley, Streeter Ridge, Pine Mountain, Lake Pillsbury and Little Round Mountain. On the Covelo Ranger District, prescribed burns are planned in the vicinity of Bredehoft Place, Howard Lake and Pinto Ridge. Selected campgrounds, guard stations and miscellaneous pile burning will also be included in the prescribed burning operations.
Prescribed burning announcements will be placed at local ranger stations prior to ignition. Mendocino National Forest employees are committed to a safe and successful prescribed burning season for both the public and employees.
For more information, please contact the Grindstone Ranger District at 530-934-3316, the Upper Lake Ranger District at 707-275-2361 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino.