Prescribed fire operations may continue near Tahoe City | SierraSun.com

Prescribed fire operations may continue near Tahoe City

Submitted to Sierra Sun

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Weather and conditions permitting, California State Parks may continue prescribed fire operations over the next few weeks at Burton Creek State Park near Tahoe City, according to a press release from the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team.

Prescribed fire operations are conducted whenever weather, conditions and staffing allow to reduce excess vegetation that can feed unwanted wildland fires. Planned fires now reduce the threat of unplanned fires later, which helps provide increased community protection, the release states. Low intensity fire is a natural process in the Sierra Nevada and helps keep our forests healthy by minimizing the spread of insects and disease, recycling nutrients back into the soil and promoting improved habitat for diverse vegetation and wildlife.

Prescribed fire managers use different methods to reintroduce fire back into our forests that include pile burning and understory burning, according to the release. Pile burning is intended to remove excess fuels (branches, limbs and stumps) that can feed unwanted wildfires and involves burning slash piles that are constructed by hand and mechanical equipment. Understory burning is low intensity prescribed fire that takes place on the ground (the understory) rather than pile burning. Understory burning uses a controlled application of fire to remove excess vegetation under specific environmental conditions that allow fire to be confined to a predetermined area. Understory burning produces fire behavior and fire characteristics required to attain planned fire and resource management objectives. 

Each prescribed fire operation follows a specialized burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. This information is used to decide when and where to burn.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions. Prescribed fire smoke is generally less intense and of much shorter duration than smoke produced by unwanted wildland fires, the release states.

Agencies coordinate closely with local county and state air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions carefully prior to prescribed fire ignitions. They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke up and disperse it away from smoke sensitive areas, according to the release. Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively materials are consumed and how smoke will travel.

Before prescribed fire operations are conducted, agencies post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line maintained by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit at 530-543-2816. The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team gives as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice due to the small window of opportunity for conducting these operations, the release states.

A map with project locations and details is available for viewing at http://tahoe.livingwithfire.info/get-informed/. To receive prescribed fire notifications, send an email to pa_ltbmu@fs.fed.us.

For more information, visit http://www.tahoefft.org.

Source: Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team