Calfire proposes prescribed burns on Waddle Ranch | SierraSun.com

Calfire proposes prescribed burns on Waddle Ranch

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Truckee Tahoe Airport may get some help from Calfire in the woods of Waddle Ranch this year.

At Thursdayand#8217;s airport district board meeting, Calfire Forester Jeff Dowling proposed the state agency help set controlled burns in the 1,500-acre preserved open space area in the Martis Valley, supplementing the airportand#8217;s mechanical brush thinning already in progress.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s not because the treatment youand#8217;ve done is inadequate, itand#8217;s basically a whistle to go with the bell,and#8221; Dowling said.

The idea would be to do broadcast burns (burning across the forest floor in an area already mechanically thinned) in about 60 acres of the 1,200 forested acres, at a rate of about 10 acres per day, likely next fall, Dowling said.

Calfire would cover about 75 percent of the costs, the rest going to the airport district, using both Calfire personnel and inmate hand crews from Washington Ridge, he said.

and#8220;Iand#8217;m a great fan of burning and#8212; itand#8217;s the right way to go,and#8221; said board member Bill Quesnel. and#8220;I think we should just go for it.and#8221;

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Calfire considers the wooded edge of the Martis Valley as one of the higher fire risks in the Truckee area, with the potential for ignition from the Highway 267 starting a fire carried all the way into Glenshire.

The airport district already started an aggressive mechanical thinning program last summer, masticating about 300 acres in key areas throughout the property.

Gaylan Larson, who lives in the Martis area, is concerned by the potential for smoke.

and#8220;We have people in the Martis Valley who are very sensitive to smoke, my wife being one,and#8221; Larson said. and#8220;Iand#8217;m strongly against this.and#8221;

Dowling said Calfire would do its best to manage smoke by only burning 10 acres at a time, and by burning only during favorable wind conditions.

The board unanimously approved moving forward with Calfire, pending the consent of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, its partner in the preserved property.

and#8220;We donand#8217;t have an official for or against burning policy, so Iand#8217;ll be going back to Perry (Norris, executive director) with this,and#8221; said John Svahn, stewardship director for the land trust.

In a phone interview after the meeting, Norris said the trust will do more research before coming to a decision.

and#8220;Iand#8217;m sure we can work with CDF (Calfire) and the airport, but we want to make sure it doesnand#8217;t negatively impact or impede the publicand#8217;s enjoyment of the property,and#8221; Norris said.