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Controlled burns under way

Staff Reports

U.S. Forest Service officials have been using controlled burn tactics around Truckee to reduce surface fuels in area forests and to help minimize the dangers of forest fires.

On Monday, the Forest Service started burning a planned 400-acre area south of Russel Valley and north of Prosser Creek Reservoir, according to Kathy Murphy, fuels officer for the Truckee Ranger District. Controlled fuel burning is also planned for 100 acres in the Sawtooth Ridge area, and 200 acres in the Sagehen area, which may be several weeks from now.

Controlled burning can help eliminate the chances for hazardous fires by eliminating fuels.

“We’re burning in fire-adapted ecosystems. We are trying to reintroduce fire into these ecosystems,” explained Murphy.

Eight to 10 years before people inhabited the area, lightning would start forest fires, said Murphy. Since people inhabited the area and started excluding fire, there has been a build-up of fuels.

“This area has been missing the natural fires that were once familiar here,” said Murphy. She said that prior to inhabitants, a natural fire cycle occurred every eight to 12 years.

“In general, smaller trees are thinned out and the larger trees survive,” she said.

The amount of burning the Forest Service can complete at one time depends mostly on the weather, Murphy said. Forest Service personnel are also limited to the amount of acres that can be reasonably burned without creating smoke impacts to residents, she said.


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