(Update: Burn rescheduled for Thursday, Friday)
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -– If conditions remain favorable, firefighters will be burning downed juniper later this week in two units totaling 450 acres on the Crooked River National Grassland near Juniper Butte, parallel to Highway 97 and south of Madras.
Smoke will be visible south of Madras near Highway 97, King and Morris lanes and Haystack Drive while fire managers continue juniper "jackpot" burning this Thursday and Friday, officials said Tuesday.
Predicted high winds prompted U.S. Forest Service officials to call off the scheduled burn last week.
Firefighters will be burning individual piles of downed juniper trees left over from a large thinning project in the Willow Creek watershed. The project removed thousands of junipers to restore range conditions and water availability, and has been open to personal firewood collection for the last five seasons.
Burning the remaining piles will improve critical winter range for big game and provide better summer grazing conditions while reducing hazardous fuel loading to lower the risk of large-scale wildfire across the landscape, officials said.
Due to the location of these units, the public could see smoke and drivers may experience smoke impacts on nearby highways and forest roads.
For all prescribed fires, signs will be posted on significant nearby Forest roads and state highways that could be impacted. The public is encouraged to close their windows at night and if smoke is on the roadway, turn on headlights and slow down while traveling through smoky areas.
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.