As warmer, drier weather takes hold in Eastern Oregon, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is ready to begin spring prescribed burning to reduce hazardous fuels on up to 10,000 acres of the National Forest.
National Forest managers have been successfully conducting prescribed burning operations for fuel reduction for more than 35 years, and in the last five years, the forest has increased prescribed burning by 20 percent. Because fire seasons are getting longer and hotter, using prescribed fire during cooler months is increasingly important to reduce the risk of large and destructive wildfires during the hotter months. In addition to reducing wildfire risk, prescribed fire also improves overall forest health and resilience to insects and diseases, and enhances habitat for elk, deer, and other wildlife.
“By getting good fire back into the forest, we’re protecting communities while restoring and sustaining the land,” forest Fuels Program Manager Steve Hawkins said. “We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of our stakeholders as we work toward our shared goal of healthy landscapes in Eastern Oregon.”
The National Forest has prioritized the areas listed below for prescribed burning this spring. Access maps of the burn units are available online.
Whitman Ranger District (WRD) – 541-523-4476 (Baker, Halfway, and Unity). The WRD plans to conduct prescribed burning on up to 5,000 acres this spring, which may include:
- Foothills (700 acres) – 4 miles west of Baker City, OR
- Deer (1,500 acres) – 1 mile northeast of Sumpter, OR
- Union Miners (2,000 acres) – 2 miles north of Phillips Lake
- Mile 9/Sheep (1,200 acres) – 5 miles west of Unity, OR
- Goose (400 acres) – 17 miles northwest of Richland, OR
- Barnard (450 acres) – 6 miles northwest of Halfway, OR
- Little Dean (365 acres) – 1 mile south of Phillips Lake
- Broman (1,300 acres) – 8 miles northwest of Unity, OR
- Pine Valley (200 acres) – 5.5 miles north of Halfway, OR
The Wallowa Fire Zone (WFZ) – 541-426-4978 (Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Hells Canyon NRA and Eagle Cap Ranger District). The WFZ plans to conduct prescribed burning on up to 3,000 acres this spring, which may include:
- Chesnimus Elk (1,000 acres) – 30 miles northeast of Enterprise, OR
- B-Vine (1,000 acres) – 30 miles north/northeast of Enterprise, OR
- Muddy Sled (1,000 acres) – 20 miles north of Enterprise, OR
The Grande Ronde Fire Zone (GRFZ) – 541-963-7186 (La Grande Ranger District). The GRFZ plans to conduct prescribed burning on up to 3,000 acres this spring, which may include:
- Horse Fly (500 acres) – 13 miles southwest of La Grande, OR near Vey Meadows and Blue Springs
- Trail (600 acres) – 8 miles northwest of La Grande, OR near Mount Emily
- Rooster (200 acres) – 21 miles southwest of La Grande, OR near Vey Meadows
- Birdtrack (1,200 acres) – 9 miles west of La Grande in the Spring Creek Area
- Sandbox (500 acres) – 12 miles southeast of Union, OR near Catherine Creek Snow Park
Please note that actual acres within a project area may vary due to fuel conditions, smoke dispersion, wind patterns, and other variables. Acres may be higher or lower in some project areas than listed. Weather, fuel conditions, and smoke will determine where and when units are ignited. It is anticipated that not all areas will be within prescription and will not be implemented this spring, while other project areas may have additional acres within prescription that may be implemented.
More information about the Wallowa-Whitman prescribed burning program is available online, or contact Steve Hawkins at 541-523-1262. For up-to-date information about current prescribed burns, visit the Wallowa-Whitman 2019 Prescribed Fire InciWeb site, or follow social media updates on Facebook and Twitter.