Controlled burns to start in basin | SierraSun.com

Controlled burns to start in basin

The U.S. Forest Service in the Lake Tahoe Basin is beginning its fall prescribed fires as both crews and conditions permit.

Smoke from the controlled burns will likely be visible around the basin during the projects. The burns are part of an accelerated effort to reduce wildfire risks to communities and watersheds, and is a necessary step in the improvement of forest ecosystem health, said Rex Norman, Forest Service spokesperson.

Projects are distributed around the basin and will consist mainly of the burning of hand piles. The piles were collected by crews over the last two years in a program to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations and the risks they create for unnaturally hot and destructive wildfires, Norman said.

Work has concentrated on national forest lands near communities, known as the Wildland Urban Interface.

Although the Forest Service takes steps to reduce the possibility of smoke impacts, shifting winds, non-forecasted inversion layers or other factors can result in smoke lingering in residential areas.

“We have a job to do and an important one: To reduce wildfire risks to communities, resources and water quality; and that job carries the possibility of smoke impacts, even heavy smoke,” Norman said. “We will work to prevent that disruption, but more importantly, prevent the kind of wildfire that would bring far more costly and long-lasting disruptions.”

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For the Forest Service lands in the basin, roughly 42,000 acres remain in need of initial treatments.

State land management agencies like California State Parks, are also entering their prescribed fire operations for the fall.