SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Pile burning operations on the Deschutes National Forest continue this week as firefighters work to dispose of slash piles near Sisters that were created by recent hazardous fuels reduction and forest restoration projects.
Ignitions were taking place Monday in the "Vin" Stewardship Project area, along Forest Service Road 16 south of Melvin Butte, as well as in the IO Stewardship Project Area, south of Black Butte Ranch, near Graham Corral.
Forest Service officials said light smoke will be visible from Sisters-area communities, including Black Butte Ranch, Tollgate, Crossroads and Indian Ford/Camp Polk Road, as well as from the Bend area.
Fuels specialists follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires (including pile burning) and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health. State officials are allowing pile burning operations between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to promote smoke dispersal and preserve air quality in the area.
If weather and smoke dispersal conditions remain favorable, firefighters plan additional pile ignitions through Thursday in the same locations, and also in units near Forest Service Road 1505/Edgington Road and near Black Pine Springs and Forest Service Road 16. No ignitions will take place Friday or anytime next week.
Removing these piles of hazardous fuels during the winter months is a safe way to reduce wildfire danger in the area, protecting nearby homes and allowing for a safer response to wildfires by wildland firefighters. Removing hazardous fuels promotes a landscape more resilient to wildfire and is in keeping with ongoing local efforts under the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, officials said.