The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will begin the fall/winter prescribed fire program this week in areas throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The first operation will take place on Monday near Pioneer Trail and Al Tahoe Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe. Approximately nine acres will be burned over a one-or two-day period.
Forest service Fire Chief Kit Bailey said fall and winter bring cooler temperatures and precipitation, which are ideal for prescribed burning.
Each operation follows a prescribed fire burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. This information is used to decide when and where to burn. The forest service tries to give as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice, he said.
“Prescribed fire is an important tool used to maintain forest health and reduce fuels that could feed future wildfires,” Bailey said. “By conducting prescribed fire at Lake Tahoe, fire managers are protecting our community and our natural resources by reducing the potential for wildfire.”
Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size. The forest service fire and fuels management staff coordinate with state and local county air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions closely prior to prescribed fire ignition. They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke up and out of the Basin. Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively fuels are consumed and how the smoke will travel.
“We are sensitive to the fact that smoke has an impact on people, especially those with respiratory conditions and allergies and we make every effort to conduct prescribed fire operations during weather patterns that carry smoke out of the Basin,” said Bailey. “Yosemite’s Rim fire reminded us of the importance of fuels reduction and that smoke produced during a prescribed fire is much less intense and of much shorter duration than that of a wildfire.”
Before prescribed fire operations are conducted, Forest Service staff post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line at 530-543-2600, #6. To receive prescribed fire notifications, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on prescribed fire and smoke management tips, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/RxFireOps.