BLM to discuss Jack Wright Summit burn with Douglas officials |

BLM to discuss Jack Wright Summit burn with Douglas officials

by Jeff Munson

Bureau of Land Management officials will address public concerns over a prescribed burn plan for the Jack Wright Pass area during a meeting with Douglas County leaders Thursday.

The BLM has planned prescribed burns in the area over five years, with the first burn planned for this year.

The agency is soliciting public comment through Feb. 16.

Critics of the plan point to an Oct. 18 BLM prescribed burn in the Mount Como area of the Pine Nut Mountains that escaped fire crews and burned 1,700 acres rather than the 400 originally intended.

Although no homes were burned in the blaze, nearby residents have raised their concerns publicly and to the BLM.

“There is concern from residents who don’t want to see it happen again,” said Douglas County Manager Dan Holler.

While the county cannot set policy because the land is under federal government jurisdiction, it can make recommendations that support residents and their concerns.

“Most folks want to see a mechanical treatment or other options to reduce the fire threat to the area rather than a burning process,” Holler said.

Prescribed burns are used to reduce the threat of forest fires by torching dead and dying undergrowth, which can fuel fires. The practice has become common over the years; however, a number of prescribed burns like the one at Mount Como have gotten out of control, including fires that devastated homes and property in Oregon, Washington and Los Alamos, N.M.

A report released by the BLM Monday said an internal investigation found no significant planning or operational failures that resulted in the fire. However, the report did identify contributing factors that caused the fire to spread.

According to the report, high winds from an approaching storm were responsible for the fire’s escape. The report said winds blew into an interior area of unburned trees that ignited and caused a spot fire outside the control line that could not be contained by holding forces on the scene.

One factor was a cold front that increased wind speed, which decreased moisture in a stand of trees that was already considered dry and a fire hazard.

Also, the trees had a heavy litter-layer of dead underbrush and low branches not typically associated with dense pinon pine stands, according to the report.

The commission meets at 1 p.m. at the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.

What: Bureau of Land Management public information meeting with Douglas County commissioners

When: Thursday, Feb. 1, 2001

Where: 1616 Eighth St., Minden