HOOD RIVER, Ore. — Sept. 22, 2023 — To reduce wildfire hazards and improve forest health, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area will conduct prescribed burning in the eastern Gorge starting as soon as early next week.
This year’s activities will focus on select areas in Klickitat County, Wash., between Courtney Road and Tracy Hill, located east of Bingen. The prescribed burns are planned between late September and January, as part of an ongoing fire and fuels management program.
“We’re coming into a weather window – which means temperatures, humidity, and ground moisture are just right for successfully burning while still maintaining control of the fire,” said Roland Rose, Fuels Manager with the U.S. Forest Service.
The actual day of ignition will be selected when factors such as humidity, wind speed and direction, temperature and moisture levels help ensure a well-controlled fire. Prescribed burning only occurs on days when the Washington State Smoke Management Office determines that weather conditions are met for smoke dispersal.
“We plan to have numerous resources assembled from state, local, and federal partners on site to provide ample capability to maintain control of the fire,” said Chris Harper, acting Fire Management Officer for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
Prescribed burning is used by fire managers to reduce ground vegetation and accumulated woody debris from the forest understory. This also helps restore historic vegetative landscapes in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, where widely-space forest made up of large oak and pine trees once dominated. Prescribed burns also help recycle soil nutrients, improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and increase resiliency to the effects of wildfire.
Smoke may be visible on Washington State Route 14 and Interstate 84 at times during the prescribed burns. When smoke is present, motorists should reduce speeds and turn on headlights.
Those with medical conditions may request to be placed on a call list for advance notifications by contacting the National Scenic Area office at 541-308-1700.
# # #