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Prescribed burns to begin on Deschutes, Ochoco forests


(Update: Adding Deschutes National Forest burn plans)

If conditions remain favorable, firefighters will begin fall prescribed burning on the Deschutes National Forest this week. Multiple burns are planned starting this Wednesday and Thursday on the Sisters and Bend-Fort Rock ranger districts.

Beginning Wednesday, the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District is planning multiple days of burn operations about 5 miles north of Hole in the Ground and 22 miles southeast of La Pine. It could take up to four days to complete all three burn units, covering a total of about 1,400 acres.

These units were previously prescribed burned in 2006 and the project will help maintain reduced hazardous fuels. Due to the location, the public may see smoke in the Fort Rock area and along Hwy 31.

The Sisters Ranger District is planning a burn unit on Wednesday about 4 miles north of Sisters. This 92 acre burn will include traffic flaggers on Forest Service Road 1102 (Indian Ford Road).

On Thursday, there are planned ignitions on two units totaling 171 acres in the vicinity of Camp Sherman at the junction of Forest Service Roads 1216 and 1419. Traffic flaggers will be in place on Forest Service Road 1419. Smoke from these burns may be visible to those in Camp Sherman and Sisters.

Officials said the prescribed burns will help restore Ponderosa pine ecosystems by reintroducing low-intensity fire, increase the safety of nearby communities by reducing hazardous fuels, and improve wildlife habitat.

For all prescribed fires, signs will be posted on significant nearby Forest roads and state highways that could be impacted. No road closures are anticipated with these projects. If smoke is on the roadway, turn on headlights and slow down while traveling through smoky areas. Around all burn areas, hunters may notice periods of increased smoke as well.

The public’s health is important to the Forest Service. While significant preventive measures are taken, many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke, including severity and duration of smoke exposure and a person’s health. If individuals feel impacted by smoke, they should avoid outdoor physical exertion and remain indoors. If people experience serious health impacts from the smoke, they should contact their doctor. For more information about smoke and health, visit the Oregon Health Authority recommendations through this link:

Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs smoke from prescribed fires (including pile burning), and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.

Meanwhile, fire managers on the Ochoco National Forest are planning ignition of the 800-acre Jackson #3 prescribed burn Wednesday morning. The use of prescribed fire in this area is intended to improve big game habitat and to introduce fire back into the fire-adapted ecosystem, reducing hazardous fuels and future risk of severe wildfire.

The burn unit covers 800 acres just north of Little Summit Prairie and south of Cottonwood Pit, near Forest Service roads 4270 and 4274.

Preparation work consisting of construction of containment line, tree limbing and brush removal has occurred throughout the summer.

Firefighters from the Ochoco National Forest and Prineville BLM will be cooperatively working together to accomplish this burn.

Fire managers have been scouting several potential prescribed burn areas in anticipation of fall weather favorable to controlled burning.

The Jackson #3 project area was selected in part in order to minimize impacts to deer hunters, as no hunter camps were located in the vicinity.

Rain is expected on the forest by the end of the week with the possibility of snow in higher elevations next week. The timing of ignitions is planned to take advantage of this season-ending weather. Ignition operations are expected to last one to two days.

Smoke will be expected to linger in the burn area for several days, with nightly cold temperatures creating an inversion of smoke that will lift and clear the air as the mornings warm. Forest roads 4270, 4274 and other spur roads in the area could be impacted by smoke, so officials ask that you please drive slow and with your lights on if you are in the area.

For current Central Oregon prescribed fire information, visit or follow on Twitter at @CentralORfire.

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