Inyo National Forest Plans Winter, Spring Prescribed Fires

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Photo credit: Friends of the Inyo

The Mono Lake, Mammoth, and White Mountain Ranger Districts of the Inyo National Forest will implement prescribed fire projects in the upcoming winter and spring months as conditions permit.

Crews take advantage of snow on the ground to complete vegetation pile burning in locations throughout the forest. Thinning and pile burning restores the forest to more natural conditions. Crews then focus on these areas for prescribed fires to help return the natural fire cycle.

Prescribed fires are planned months in advance. Implementation of all treatments are only initiated after following standards written into a Prescribed Fire Burn Plan. These plans define the prescription parameters which include temperature, wind, relative humidity, fuel moisture, etc., ensuring the prescribed fire meets the project objectives.

These treatment units are also prepared in advance for ignitions by local engine and hand crew resources. They will construct handlines and insert extensive hose-lays around the treatment units in order to help ensure a higher level of control during ignitions and holding. The burn plans also identify the correct level of fire personnel to have in place upon ignition and days following.

Photo credit: USDA Forest Service

These requirements are typically exceeded during the day of ignitions and kept in place until completion. Fire intensities can be managed to an acceptable level for holding resources by following those parameters written into the burn plans for each unit.

These projects help to reduce heavy accumulations of understory vegetation and woody materials. These treatments are developed in conjunction with pre-identified suppression strategies for the protection of Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) as well as meeting objectives for habitat enhancement/restoration and forest health.

In time these projects will help to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and their  inherent risks to firefighters, public, and our forests.

Projects may be completed in:

  • June Lake Loop; piles, up to 300 acres.
  • Bowl Units, east of Hwy. 395 near June Lake Junction (south), prescribed, up to 300 acres.
  • Hartley Units, between Hartley Campground and Hwy. 395, prescribed, up to 300 acres.
  • Lakes Basin, piles, up to 542 acres.
  • Sherwin Piles, north of Shady Rest Campground, and by Sherwin Creek Campground, up to 80 acres.
  • Antelope Units, five miles northeast of Mammoth Lakes and one mile south of Owens River Road in the Antelope Springs area, prescribed fire, up to 660 acres.
  • Dry Creek Units, four miles north of Mammoth Lakes and one mile north of Scenic Loop Road, up to 300 acres.
  • Pit Units, three miles to southeast of Mammoth Lakes, near the Sherwin Creek Campground, prescribed, up to 90 acres.
  • Smoke Units, northeast of Mammoth Lakes, east of Hwy. 395, between the Geothermal Plant and Smoke Bear Flats, up to 320 acres.
  • Bishop Creek; piles, three acres by South Fork community, and one acre by Aspendell.
  • Sunny Slopes, piles, one acre, south of Sunny Slopes by Tuff Campground.
2021 05 04 CDT
Photo credit: Data Central

As prescriptions are met, more detailed project information will be released.

Smoke may be visible at times from Highways 395, 158, 167, 120 and 203, as well as the communities of Mono City, Lee Vining, June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Crowley Lake, Sunny Slopes, and Tom’s Place.

All prescribed fire activities will be coordinated with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District in order to provide the best smoke dispersion and to reduce impacts to Eastern Sierra communities.

When you see prescribed fires during the cool times of the year, please understand that we are creating healthier forests and wildfire resilient communities: for today and future generations.

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