Canyon prescribed burn on Ochoco NF planned for ignition in late September

Preparations underway for 4,685 acre project southwest of Walton Lake

PRINEVILLE, Ore.— Fire managers on the Ochoco National Forest are working southwest of Walton Lake to prepare the Canyon prescribed burn area for ignition in late September. The use of prescribed fire in this area is intended to reduce hazardous fuels and improve big game habitat. The burn unit covers 4,685 acres southwest of Walton Lake on the north side of Forest Service road 22 (see attached map).

Ignitions for the Canyon prescribed burn will occur in late September as weather and fuel conditions allow. Preparation work consisting of construction of containment line, tree limbing, and brush removal around the project perimeter is ongoing. The interior will be burned using aerial ignitions delivered from a helicopter. At this time the prescribed burn is planned to fall between archery and rifle deer hunting seasons, in order to impact hunters as little as possible. If conditions are not favorable to burn the 4,685 acre unit, fire managers have other smaller units prepped and ready to burn as well.

Prescribed burning is a proactive approach to fire management, reintroducing fire in a manner that reduces hazardous fuels, improves range and forest health, and benefits the fire-adapted ecosystem.  Prescribed burning can be strategically located across the landscape, is carefully managed to meet resource and smoke management objectives, and incorporates consideration for sensitive resources. Unplanned wildfires generally do not afford such benefits, burn with high intensity, and often require costly suppression efforts.

The Ochoco National Forest’s prescribed fire program has been utilizing aerial ignitions, in which incendiary balls are dropped from a helicopter, to accomplish larger, landscape level burns. This method is cost-effective and helps to consume dense pockets of fuel while restoring lower intensity fire across the majority of the landscape. The Canyon prescribed burn builds on a series of prior forest thinning and prescribed fire treatments throughout the area to restore a more open, resilient forest condition.

Larger prescribed burn areas may produce increased smoke. Smoke may impact recreational facilities at Ochoco Forest Camp and Walton Lake during ignitions and for several days after. As a precautionary measure, some dispersed camping areas near the unit will be closed September 23-27. The closed areas have signs posted. Campers should not leave camping trailers or gear in closed areas. Forest visitors in the area can expect increased traffic, possible delays, and short-term closure of some forest roads.

For media inquiries, contact Jill Welborn at (541) 416-6647 or [email protected].

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