Forest Service Begins Annual Winter Prescribed Fire Program

Forest Service flogoEach year the Forest Service begins its winter prescribed burn program in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Winter burning projects will resume as part of a continuing effort to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires and to improve forest health. The program of this season’s prescribed burning program will continue through the winter months as weather and conditions permit, said Forest Service Public Affairs Representative John Miller.

“Prescribed fires are ignited only when both weather and fuel conditions exist that ill ensure low to moderate burning rates and firefighting resources are available to keep fires within fire lines,” said Forest Service Fire Chief Jaime Gamboa.

Prescribed fires and pile burning are intended to reduce the amount of vegetation such as needles, small plants, brush and small trees, which can carry fire from the forest floor into the treetops. Studies and experience have shown that prescribed fires will stimulate the growth of grasses, forbs and shrubs that provide food for deer, mountain quail and other wildlife. “We are sensitive to the fact that smoke has an impact on people, particularly those with respiratory conditions and allergies,” said Gamboa. “Every effort is made to ignite prescribed fires when weather patterns will carry smoke away from populated areas.”

The ignition of all prescribed burns depends on the availability of personnel and equipment and appropriate conditions. The burns are only done in coordination with the National Weather Service and the South Coast Air Quality Management District before and during the event. By working with these agencies smoke on prescribed burns smoke production is minimized as much as possible.

Fire managers follow a burn plan that outlines the “prescription” or environmental conditions such as temperature, wind, fuel moisture, ventilation and relative humidity that need to be present before the project begins. When the criteria is met crews implement, monitor and patrol each burn to ensure it meets the goals and objectives outlined by the burn managers.

Firefighters will be burning slash and debris piles adjacent to Forest Service Fire Stations. Signs will be posted along the roadways to alert  residents and passerby’s to the burning activity. Occasions will be sent to the public alerting them to potential smoke in the air. In addition to the station pile burning, the public may see smoke from the pile burning activities in the winter months.

This year the following areas are scheduled for “Slash and Debris Pile Burnings” the San Bernardino Mountain areas:

* Prescribed fire north of State Hwy. 38 as part of the Angeles Oaks Community Defense Project.

* Slash and debris pile burning in Oak Glen near Pisgah Peak, Cherry Canyon Truck Trail, Yucaipa Ridge and Pilgrim Pines.

* Slash and debris pine burning near Hwy. 38 at Forest Road 2N93 south of Sugarloaf.

* Slash and debris pile burning along Forest Road 2N13 north of Fawnskin.

* Slash and debris pile burning near Forest Road 2N19 south of Green Valley Lake.

* Slash and debris burning along Hwy. 173 at Grass Valley Lake Road, north of Lake Arrowhead.

* Slash and pile burning near various fire stations.

Many other slash and burn events will be held in the San Gabriel and San Jacinto Mountains as well.




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