As fall weather brings shorter days and cooler temperatures, fuels specialists with the Bureau of Land Management Prineville District Office are preparing for the fall/winter prescribed burn program. As early as November 8—and continuing through the next few months depending on conditions—specialists will treat a variety of locations with prescribed fire across BLM-managed public lands in Central Oregon. These prescribed burns are planned in the following project areas:
- Cline Buttes: 314 acres of hand pile burning in the Dusty Loop/Innes Market Road area.
- Outback: 269 acres of hand pile burning eight miles southeast of La Pine and on the east side of Highway 31.
- High Desert Shrub Steppe Project: crews will burn juniper slash scattered across 21,459 acres of BLM lands south of Brothers and in the 12-Mile table area east of Paulina, Oregon.
- Williamson Creek: 532 acres of hand pile burning near the corner of Millican Road and Reservoir Rd southwest of Prineville.
- Brothers/Fox Butte Road: 616 acres of hand pile burning southwest of Brothers and Fox Butte Road, along the border of the BLM and Deschutes National Forest. Smoke may be visible from Hwy. 20.
If conditions remain favorable, crews are planning to begin work in the High Desert Shrub Steppe Project and the Brothers Project this week. Crews will move into the other project areas as the winter progresses.
The piles are concentrations of leftover materials from previous thinning projects designed to remove hazardous fuels that can burn during wildfires. Juniper removed in the High Desert Shrub Steppe Project have the added benefit of improving Greater Sage-grouse habitat. Where possible, material was first offered for firewood, commercial sale, or biomass use; with some remaining material scattered to rehabilitate sites and close user-created routes.
The projects are each expected to take several days, and crews will move between each project depending on site-specific weather. Main roads in the area will be signed to inform residents of the prescribed burn and no road closures or delays are expected. Piles may smolder, burn, and produce smoke for several days after ignition. Smoke may settle in overnight, and where necessary, motorists should reduce speeds and turn on headlights.
All prescribed burning is highly dependent on favorable temperature, moisture and wind conditions. Each of these prescribed burns will only be started when the conditions are right to meet the objectives of the burn, while minimizing smoke impacts to any nearby communities. All prescribed burn areas will be patrolled during and following ignitions. Prescribed burns are completed in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan. In addition, fire and fuels managers are working closely this year with air quality and public health authorities on prescribed burns due to COVID-19.
For more information about prescribed burning, please contact the Prineville BLM at (541) 416-6700, or see a complete listing of all the upcoming prescribed burning activities in your area at https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/oregon-washington/prescribed-fire, or https://centraloregonfire.org/