More than 700 acres planned for burning in Truckee Ranger district | SierraSun.com

More than 700 acres planned for burning in Truckee Ranger district

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

Planned fires

Following is a list of prescribed fire projects planned for this fall/winter in the Truckee Ranger District:

Stampede Area: 200 acres about 1 mile east of Stampede Reservoir.

Hwy 89 North near Prosser Hill OHV: 500 acres about 2 miles north of Tahoe Donner and Prosser Lakeview/Prosser Heights and adjacent to Klondike Flats.

Multiple Piled Material Operations: Serene Lakes (10 acres); Russel Valley (10 acres); Henness Pass Road north of Stampede Reservoir (10 acres); Donner Camp (1 acre); Sawtooth Ridge/06 Road (2 acres)

Source: USFS, Truckee Ranger District

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Fall is upon us, and with it comes the promise of cooler, wetter weather for the Tahoe National Forest.

It’s also that time of year when regional fire protection agencies ramp up plans for prescribed burns.

Projects include burning piles of stacked vegetation and certain areas where forest floor vegetation should be burned in order to reduce severity of potential fires, according to officials.

Officials also note the burns have the potential to promote “a diverse and more resilient forest, as well as improve wildlife habitat.”

“Prescribed fire is an important tool used to maintain forest health and reduce the build-up of hazardous fuels.”Kit BaileyUSFS fire management officer

The plan is to begin implementing the burns at times when air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction and fuel moisture are in a “desired range.”

For US Forest Service rangers operating in Truckee, prescribed burns began last week and are planned, as weather allows, east of Stampede Reservoir and on the west side of Highway 89, north of Tahoe Donner and Prosser Lakeview/Prosser Heights.

CORRECTING PAST ACTIONS

Areas in need are typically determined months in advance by Forest Service foresters, who spend their time exploring and cataloguing areas and, like a doctor, will write prescriptions for fire protection agencies, said North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Michael Brown.

“We are trying to correct actions that we have for many years removed from the natural process,” Brown said. “When you look at Mother Nature’s natural process, it was important to reintroduce that process the way it was set up to do.”

Before any prescriptions are written, Brown explained that regional fire districts will convene, talk about issues, address areas in need and make determinations among their respective agency managers.

Those determinations must then be cleared through a managing board. In the North Tahoe area, that vetting process usually goes through the Nevada Division of Forestry, he said.

“That way, each entity has a voice for any concern,” Brown said.

The fires will be low intensity, Brown said, meaning crews intend the fires to mirror ones that would be occurring naturally around this time of year, like those caused by a lightning strike.

“We don’t want to get to the point where this fire takes on a high intensity,” Brown said. “We have to control it in a process that is very slow and methodical.”

BATTLING SMOKE

Brown said prescriptions have already been set for areas within Incline Village and Crystal Bay, as well as other areas throughout the North Lake Tahoe area. Those areas have had prescribed fires in the past, he added, a cycle that occurs about every five years.

Along Tahoe’s south shore, the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT), which includes numerous fire and land management agencies in the Lake Tahoe Basin, will begin fall prescribed fire operations as soon as weather conditions are favorable.

“Prescribed fire is an important tool used to maintain forest health and reduce the build-up of hazardous fuels,” said Kit Bailey, a USFS fire management officer.

Whether the prescribed fires are occurring on the south side or throughout the Truckee-Tahoe area, Truckee Ranger District fuels specialist Linda Ferguson explained officials will be putting the word out through social media, TV and radio, at schools and across regional news publications.

Ferguson said the fires will inevitably create smoke, which will be more prominent within the first one or two days, weather permitting.

While public perception of these fires continue to improve, Ferguson admits a concern remains with regard to smoke and the potential for crews to lose control of the prescribed burns.

“People have a fear of fire; they don’t like smoke.” Ferguson said. “I’m able to do these fires under specific conditions and the impacts are far less than a wildfire.”

To receive prescribed fire notifications via email, call Ferguson at 530-587-3558.

Visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe for information on prescribed fire in the Tahoe National Forest.