October 11, 2012
Wildfire season is winding down, so let the burning begin. During the fall, many Oregon forest owners use fire to remove logging slash from their lands. This creates space for tree planting and controls competing vegetation. By preventing the build-up of this woody debris, prescribed burning also reduces the threat of damaging wildfires.
Oregon’s Smoke Management Plan enables landowners to use this important forest management tool while minimizing the intrusion of smoke into populated areas.
“We’re really concerned about the fuels that are going to be burned,” said Nick Yonker, Oregon Department of Forestry’s meteorology manager, “as well as expected wind and weather conditions, and proximity to populated areas we’re trying to protect.”
During the prescribed burning season, staff meteorologists monitor weather and wind conditions hourly to gauge the optimum timing for burns to occur. When a burning request comes in, they search for a window in time when the smoke is likely to rise up and away from nearby communities.
Before okaying a burn, they also consider cumulative impacts. If several area landowners want to burn, ODF may stagger the permits to limit the quantity of smoke.
In western Oregon where native Douglas-fir is the most commercially desirable tree species, prescribed burning boosts replanting success. Shade-intolerant Douglas-fir seedlings need lots of sunlight so that they can thrive and eventually overtop surrounding vegetation.
In 2011, prescribed forest burns were conducted on 161,154 acres. The 10-year average is 154,163 acres burned annually.
Photo descriptor: This fall, many landowners will conduct prescribed burns on their lands. This creates space for tree planting, controls competing vegetation, and reduces wildfire risk.