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Inyo National Forest to Resume Prescribed Burning

Critical fuels treatment work to resume after 90-day national pause

BISHOP, Calif., November 17, 2022 — The USDA Forest Service, Inyo National Forest, will resume its prescribed burning program after a 90-day national pause. The pause, necessitated by recent escaped prescribed fires, was enacted by Forest Service Chief Randy Moore on May 12, 2022 then conditionally lifted on September 8 after a thorough national program review. Prior to burning, units on all National Forest System lands must implement a series of recommendations to ensure the safety and success of the prescribed burn. The Inyo National Forest has successfully implemented these recommendations and will implement prescribed burns as conditions permit.

The following is a list of prescribed burn projects with their acreage targets planned on the Inyo National Forest, which will not always reflect the order in which they are burned. It will depend on fuels and weather conditions and whether the units are determined to be in or out of prescription only days prior. The piles are more likely to be burned this winter, while the broadcast burns will most likely be carried out next spring.

Piles:

  • June Lake Loop (200 acres)
  • Reds Meadow (100 acres)
  • Lakes Basin (200 acres)
  • Bishop Creek near Aspendell (5 acres)
  • Dry Creek, just north of Mammoth Lakes and Scenic Loop Road (100 acres)
  • Sherwin Creek Road (100 acres)

Broadcast:

  • Reds Meadow (300 acres)
  • Dry Creek, just north of Mammoth Lakes and Scenic Loop Road (100 acres)
  • Antelope Units, northeast of Mammoth Lakes and south of Owens River Road (660 acres)
  • Bowl Units, near June Lake Junction east of Highway 395 (300 acres)
  • Pit Units, southeast of Mammoth Lakes, near Sherwin Creek Campground (90 acres)
  • Smoke Units, east of Mammoth/Highway 395, north of geothermal complex (320 acres)
  • Hartley Units, between Hartley Campground and Highway 395 (300 acres)

As different phases of the prescribed burns are met, updates will be released via:

Smoke

Smoke is expected to 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.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size, conditions, and weather. Prescribed fire smoke is generally less intense and of much shorter duration than smoke produced by unwanted wildfires, as fire managers consider optimal conditions for dispersal and duration of smoke impacts when considering prescribed burns.

Background

Prescribed fires are an important tool used by land managers to remove excess vegetation (fuels) that can feed wildland fires and help protect communities from extreme wildfires. Burning excess vegetation also makes room for new growth, which provides forage for wildlife, recycles nutrients back into the soil, and helps reduce the spread of insects and disease in forests.

Fall and winter typically bring cooler temperatures and precipitation, which can be ideal for conducting prescribed fires. With that, each operation follows a specialized burn plan, wherein temperature, humidity, wind, vegetation moisture, and smoke dispersal conditions are considered on a daily basis before a prescribed fire is implemented. All this information is used to decide if and when to burn.

Prescribed fire managers use different methods to reintroduce fire into forests including pile, broadcast, and understory burning. Pile burning involves burning slash piles that are constructed by hand or mechanical equipment. Broadcast and understory burning use to remove fuels under specific environmental conditions with fire confined to a predetermined area. Prescribed fires are meant to mimic naturally occurring fire, which is an integral part of many different ecosystems.

“Prescribed fire plays a vital role in creating healthy, resilient landscapes and reducing the risk of catastrophic fire to the American people and the lands entrusted to our care. We are fully committed to using this critical tool safely and effectively in collaboration with Tribes, partners, and communities. We must work together to reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfire and confront the wildfire crisis across the country.” Chief Randy Moore, September 8, 2022.

(From Inyo National Forest)

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