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Ochoco National Forest plans prescribed burn this week in Maury Mountains

Prescribed burn
KTVZ file
Prescribed burn

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) --  If conditions remain favorable, firefighters are planning an 884-acre prescribed burn in the northwest portion of the Maury Mountains on the Ochoco National Forest. Ignitions will begin Monday and are expected to take two days to complete, officials said.

The unit is near Newsome Creek, about 1.5 miles north of the Frog Fire area. Firefighters with the Ochoco National Forest and Prineville District BLM will work together to implement the prescribed burn, which is intended to reduce the risk of large-scale wildfire and improve the condition of riparian vegetation.

This prescribed burn is within the Upper Crooked River Restoration Project area of the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership, a partnership between two USDA agencies — the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service -- to mitigate wildfire threats to landowners and communities across the nation.

The Upper Crooked River Restoration project area encompasses 766,100 acres of checkerboard public and private land in the eastern half of Oregon.

The landscape includes dry Ponderosa pine, mixed conifer forests, intermixed with sage-steppe.

The project addresses the extreme fire risk on the landscape by reducing tree stand densities and removing ladder fuels while retaining stands of late and old structure Ponderosa pine.

Officials said it will also improve watershed conditions and habitat for at-risk species through juniper removal, controlled burns, aspen enhancement, and riparian restoration.

A primary goal of the habitat treatments is to improve the connectivity of sage grouse habitat in the region.

When ignitions are complete, firefighters will mop up and patrol the perimeter for the next several weeks. 

No closures are anticipated with this operation.  However, if smoke drifts on to Forest Road 1610 and 1620, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights and proceed with care.

The public’s health is important to the Forest Service, the agency said. 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: http://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx#health

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.

Keep up with prescribed burns in Central Oregon by visiting: http://www.centraloregonfire.org.

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