Forest Service to begin Prescribed Burning Projects

November 2nd, 2017 by Eric Mart

KERNVILLE, Calif., November 2, 2017—Hazardous fuels reduction projects are scheduled this winter on three mountaintops within the Kern River Ranger District in the Sequoia National Forest.  All projects are subject to weather and air quality conditions. Burns may begin as early as next week. 

The Greenhorn Mountain project is adjacent to the community of Alta Sierra and south of Shirley Meadow.  This project will consist of broadcast understory burns encompassing approximately 400 acres.  The Breckenridge project will include pile burning in the vicinity of the Breckenridge sub-division and the Golf Meadow area. The Kern Plateau pile burning will be in the Blackrock Work Center compound off of the Sherman Pass Road.

The forest surrounding the communities of Alta Sierra and Breckenridge are overly dense, with high amounts of hazardous fuels from tree mortality, which represent a high risk from fire to the community. Fuel reduction activities in the project areas will have beneficial effects in the project areas by reducing the risk of a stand-replacing fire and restoring natural ecosystems while improving public safety.

Forest Service crews have been working in the areas preparing fire lines and cutting ladder fuels to prepare for burning this fall.  Prep work is necessary to ensure the project work is accomplished safely and to provide control measures.  Included in the plan are both pile and understory burning (understory burns are controlled fires that consume surface fuels but not the overstory canopy).

The Kern River Ranger District expects to burn 850 acres this year in small units designed to minimize effects of smoke on the community while reducing the potential for significant, stand-replacing wildfires. Forests need the frequent, low-intensity fire to remove accumulated smaller fuels and recycle nutrients into the soils to promote healthy vegetation and wildlife habitat. A healthier forest is a safer forest for firefighters and residents when wildfires inevitably occur. 

Prescribed fires are essential tools for restoring the forests in our fire-adapted ecosystem, and smoke is an unavoidable byproduct of these vital efforts. Fire managers strive to minimize smoke impacts to the community as much as possible. Smoke will be visible from several communities surrounding Isabella Lake.  The Kern Plateau burning will be apparent to those traveling across Sherman Pass from the Vista and into Kennedy Meadows. Fire managers will work closely with the Eastern Mojave and San Joaquin County Air Pollution Control Boards to manage smoke production and reduce any local impacts.

Projects are dependent upon weather and wind conditions and will be cancelled if conditions are not suitable. For more information, please contact Bryan Hellett, District Fuels Officer at (760) 376-3781, extension 656.

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