As part of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s hazardous fuels reduction efforts, both Carson and Bridgeport Ranger Districts’ fire crews will conduct pile burning starting this month through May, weather and fuel conditions permitting.
Prescribed fire is a proactive tool used to achieve a number of purposes, including the reduction of hazardous fuels (overgrown vegetation). Three general types of prescribed fire are pile burning, understory/underburning and broadcast burning. They all help decrease the threat of high intensity, high-severity wildfires; reduce the risk of insect and disease outbreak; recycle nutrients that increase soil productivity; and improve wildlife habitat. Another benefit resulting from prescribed fire is a reduction in wildfire danger to local communities.
During a pile burn, firefighters ignite hand or machine cut piles of vegetation, a byproduct of vegetation or fuel management activities. Piles are generally burned during the wet season to reduce damage to the remaining standing trees, confine the fire to the footprint of the pile, and allow time for the vegetative material to dry out so it produces less overall smoke by burning hot and clean.
The actual days of ignition for pile burning will depend on several factors including appropriate humidity levels, wind speed and direction, temperature, and fuel moisture. Burns only occur on days when weather conditions exist for smoke dispersal. The public can get prescribed burn updates by visiting the Forest’s Twitter (https://twitter.com/HumboldtToiyabe) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HumboldtToiyabeNF/) pages.
“Air quality considerations are an important part of prescribed fire, and each fire prescription is planned to disperse smoke rapidly and reduce lingering haze,” said Fuels Specialist Steve Howell. “Before each prescribed fire is ignited, fire managers will get approval from the local air quality district in which the burn is to take place.”
When pile burning, only small areas are burned at a time to allow fire crews to halt burning activity if anything is out of the pre-established prescription conditions, such as too much wind. Crews can start again when conditions are more acceptable. Fire managers create a burn plan, which includes smoke management details, fire control measures, acceptable weather parameters, and equipment and personnel needs. The burn plan also describes in detail how the ecosystem will benefit from fire.
Please don’t call 911 about burning in the areas referred below. Local fire departments are aware of these burning activities. For information on pile burning activities on the Carson and Bridgeport Ranger Districts, please call Steve Howell at 775 884-8114.
Possible burn locations include:
Alpine County (California)
Approximately 55 acres of pile burning is planned in the Manzanita Fuels Reduction Project, just south of Woodfords, Calif.,, on California State Route 88 in Woodfords Canyon.
Sierra County (California)
Roughly 220 acres of pile burning is planned in the Dog Valley Fuels Reduction Project area located one mile west of Verdi, Cali. The project area is near Summit One and along Forest Service Road 010 near Bordertown Casino and RV Resort.
Mono County (California)
Approximately 114 acres of pile burning is planned for the Twin Lakes area, 10 miles southeast of Bridgeport, Calif. Piles are located on the south side of Upper Twin Lake, and also behind the Mono Village Resort. Approximately 115 acres of pile burning is planned for the Mill Canyon area, three miles west of Walker.
Douglas County (Nevada)
Roughly 95 acres of pile burning is planned in the Clear Creek Fuels Reduction Project area two miles south of Carson City. The burning will occur in the Clear Creek drainage off of U.S Highway 50 below Spooner Summit.
Washoe County (Nevada)
Roughly 30 acres of pile burning is planned in the Arrowhawk Fuels Reduction Project area five miles west of Reno. Burning will occur in the Mount Rose area near Timberline Road in the Thomas Creek and Whites Creek areas. Around 140 acres of piles will be burned in the North Washoe Valley Fuels Reduction Project area, 10 miles south of Reno. The piles are located behind the Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory west of Interstate 580. An additional 102 acres of piles will be burned in the Little Valley Fuels Reduction area near Washoe Valley about two miles west of Washoe City and 15 miles south of Reno.