Current situation

Winter and spring see lots of controlled burns in Oregon to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. Embers buried in the ashes of these pile burns can sometimes reignite even days after a fire appears to be out, especially if winds blow away ashy debris. The same winds can then fan smoldering embers back to life. That's why it's a good idea to keep checking old pile burns to ensure no hot spots have rekindled.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prescribed burns on federal lands in central Oregon this week

Fuels specialists from the Ochoco National Forest are planning to ignite three prescribed burns beginning Wednesday and continuing through Thursday. The burns are expected to take a total of two days to complete with mop-up and patrolling continuing as needed. Hunters should use caution when passing through these areas after the burns are complete, and should avoid sites with active prescribed fire.

The first burn is the final 80-acres of the Coyote Hills burn on the Crooked River National Grassland. The burn is located adjacent to the east side of Haystack Reservoir and north of FS Rd 9610 and most of the burn was completed this summer. The objective is to improve the health of native plants, restore spring flow and increase forage for wildlife and livestock by using prescribed fire to reduce the number of western juniper on the landscape. Smoke from this burn will be visible from Highways 97 and 26, the communities of Madras and Crooked River Ranch, and from nearby recreation sites such as Haystack Reservoir and Smith Rock State Park.

Specialists will also burn 135 acres in the Spears Meadow area, about 20 miles northeast of Prineville adjacent to Hwy 26. This burn is designed to reduce hazardous fuels along the highway. Smoke will be visible along Highway 26, as well as from nearby ranches, recreation sites and the communities of Prineville and Mitchell. Highway 26 is expected to remain open; however there is the potential for smoke to drift across the road.

The final burn is located in the Maury Mountains, about 30 miles east of Prineville. Specialists will burn approximately 280 acres in the Elk project area. The goal of the burn is to use fire to reduce the number of juniper on the landscape to improve elk habitat. This burn is located in a remote area and should have limited visibility, except to local ranches and people recreating in the area.

The areas will be signed to inform motorists of the prescribed fires. No road closures are anticipated; however, people recreating in or traveling through the areas should use caution as smoke may affect visibility and travel. If motorists encounter smoke as a result of the burning, they should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care. Patrols and mop-up activities will occur during and following ignitions and night patrols will occur on an as-needed basis, depending on conditions. In addition, people should use caution when entering a recently burned area due to the presence of fire-weakened trees that may fall, and watch for dangerous stump holes.

Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs controlled burns, and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health. All of these burns are weather dependent and may be cancelled if conditions are not appropriate to complete the burn successfully.

For more information, visit the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center website at

Lisa Clark
USDA Crooked River National Grassland and Ochoco National Forest


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The purpose of this blog is to provide breaking news about wildfire activity on the forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. We invite you to post questions or comments you have about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity. You are also welcome to contact us by email at:

Current wildfire info

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick mountain snowpack. It didn't take long for that to melt and vegetation to dry out due to a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather over the summer. As forest fuels dried, fires started and spread, many from lands adjacent to those protected by ODF, such as the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County. That one fire accounted for 46% of the 47,537 acres of land protected by ODF which burned in 2017. Of fires originating on ODF-protected land, 95% were put out at less than 10 acres.

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Protection jurisdiction

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects 16 million acres of private and public forestlands from wildfire. This includes all private forestlands in Oregon as well as state and local government-owned forests, along with 2.8 million acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the state. In total there are about 30.4 million acres of forest in Oregon.

Fire suppression policy

The department fights fire aggressively, seeking to put out most fires at 10 acres or smaller. This approach minimizes damage to the timber resource and fish and wildlife habitat, and protects lives and property. It also saves money. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.


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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers in Salem, Ore., maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.