Ochoco prescribed burns planned over the coming week

PRINEVILLE, Ore. – Fire managers on the Ochoco National Forest plan to continue prescribed burns in the coming days in the McKay Creek area and near Spears Meadow along Highway 26, as weather conditions allow. Both planned burns are continuations of prescribed burning that the Forest Service has already started this fall.

Firefighters treated about 250 acres with prescribed fire in the McKay Creek area two weeks ago. Starting tomorrow, Friday October 27, fire managers plan to treat another 500 acres. The unit is located west of Forest Road 27 along Forest Road 2705, about 1 mile west of Salt Butte and 14 miles northeast of Prineville. View a map of current and proposed prescribed burn units in Central Oregon HERE.

This prescribed burn is part of an ongoing series of treatments in the area to restore fire to a fire-adapted forest ecosystem, reduce hazardous fuel loading, and improve range conditions for livestock and big game. The project is funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Smoke may impact portions of Forest Roads 27, 33 and 2705 during periods of active burning, but predicted winds are expected to disperse smoke accumulations fairly quickly.

If weather conditions allow, fire managers will also burn a portion of the 1,200-acre Spears Meadow burn unit next Monday and Tuesday. This unit is located west of Highway 26 along Forest Road 3350, about 19 miles east of Prineville. This prescribed burn was scheduled to occur earlier this month, but it was cancelled last minute due to a forecast for strong winds.

If the burn takes place next week, smoke is likely to impact nearby Highway 26 during periods of active burning. Sign boards and flaggers will be present along the highway as needed.

At night, due to cold night time temperatures, smoke will pool into low level areas and may come into Prineville. This smoke should be of short duration during the early morning hours until the inversion lifts and clear back out of the valleys.

Prescribed burning is part of a Forest Service program to remove hazardous fuels in order to reduce the potential for high-intensity uncharacteristic fire, while restoring low-intensity fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem and improving range and forest health.

Prescribed burning is a proactive approach to fire management, reintroducing fire in a planned, low-intensity manner that benefits the resources, instead of waiting for an unplanned ignition, such as lightning, to start a wildfire that requires an expensive suppression response and can burn with destructive intensity.

The Forest Service appreciates public tolerance of increased smoke and vehicle traffic in support of these restoration goals.