The Deschutes National Forest and High Desert Museum are partnering to conduct a prescribed burn on both High Desert Museum property and Forest Service managed lands adjacent to the museum tomorrow.
If conditions remain favorable, firefighters will begin burning at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 23. High Desert Museum (HDM) will delay opening tomorrow but visitors are invited to use and enjoy the museum beginning at 12:00 p.m. Three units are scheduled for ignitions including the 74 acre High Desert Museum unit and two South Bend units on the Deschutes National Forest for a total of 121 acres. The burn is expected to be completed by midafternoon and smoke will begin to dissipate after ignitions are complete.
“This is a great opportunity for us to work with our partners at High Desert Museum, as well as numerous other local, state and federal fire organizations, to bring fire back into this fire-adapted ecosystem,” said John Allen, Deschutes National Forest Supervisor. “This burn will restore public land adjacent to the museum and protect this well-loved and important part of Central Oregon’s culture.”
Deschutes National Forest scientists and High Desert Museum staff collaborated in designing a prescribed burn to reduce the threat of large-scale wildfire to people, property and wildlife, as well as to provide for education exhibits on the reintroduction of fire into a fire-adapted ecosystem.
“We’re located on 135 beautiful, wooded acres that haven’t experienced a fire for more than 100 years,” said Dana Whitelaw, the High Desert Museum’s Executive Director. “We believe the prescribed burn will help create a more resilient forest as well as a defensible space protecting the Museum and its wildlife, art and artifacts. We’re pleased to work with the Forest Service on this project.”
On the day of the burn, Museum educators will offer hourly escorted interpretive walks starting at 1:00 pm to locations where visitors can see the burn in lieu of regularly scheduled daily programs.
Forecasted winds should push smoke east of Bend, which will limit impacts to the community. However smoke will be visible from Highway 97, Bend and Sunriver during ignitions. No road closures and traffic delays are expected. Subdivisions and communities in the area should not have smoke impacts during ignitions, however during the late evening and early morning smoke is expected to settle and possibly impact Highway 97, Deschutes River Woods, Bend, Sunriver, and the surrounding communities.
The public is encouraged to close their windows at night and if smoke is on the roadway, turn on headlights and slow down while traveling through smoky areas. The public’s health is important to the Forest Service. While significant preventive measures are taken, many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke, including severity and duration of smoke exposure and a person’s health. If individuals feel impacted by smoke, they should avoid outdoor physical exertion and remain indoors. If people experience serious health impacts from the smoke, they should contact their doctor. For more information about smoke and health, visit the Oregon Health Authority recommendations through this link: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx#health
Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires (including pile burning), and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.
Keep up with prescribed burns in Central Oregon by visiting this live map: https://www.fs.fed.us/r6/webmaps/deschutes/cofms-rxfire/
For more information, visit the Deschutes website at www.fs.usda.gov/deschutes and follow us on twitter @CentralORFire.