Prescribed Fire

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Program Objectives:

  • Educate the public about prescribed fire use in ecological restoration and fuels reduction
  • Secure funding and develop prescribed burning projects working with agency partners and private landowners
  • Organize and orchestrate training programs in prescribed fire for restoration practitioners
  • Implement ecological prescribed fire projects on private and federal lands

Lomakatsi fire crew implements prescribed fire plan.

Crews implement prescribed fire plan.

On the job

Prescribed fire: broadcast burn in a thinned mixed conifer/hardwood stand

Prescribed fire: broadcast burn in a thinned mixed conifer/hardwood stand

Fire has played an important role in the ecology of western forests for thousands of years. Many forest ecosystems have evolved and adapted to fire; some species such as knobcone pine (Pinus attenuata) are even dependent on fire for their survival. Fire, whether caused by lightning or intentional burning by indigenous peoples, kept these forests in balance and thriving. However, for the last century fire has largely been removed from these ecological systems causing disruption in the long-term balance and resulting in decreased biological diversity. This disruption has caused heavy accumulations of forest fuels and allowed species that were once geographically restricted by fire to thrive, encroaching into habitats that they were previously dominated by a different composition of flora and associated wildlife. This imbalance now threatens fire dependent habitats and associated wildlife. Uncharacteristically severe fire has also become a concern to people and communities that are intertwined with these forests.

Prescribed burning is the controlled application of fire to a landscape to accomplish ecological objectives. These fires are managed in such a way as to minimize the emission of smoke and maximize the ecological benefits to the site.

Anatomy of a prescribed burn

Anatomy of a prescribed burn: Prescribed burn managers try to find a natural firebreak, such as a creek (1), from which they set a down wind backfire (3). This creates the backline (2) at which the spot head-fires (set in successive ignitions, 5, 6 and 7) will stop. Crew members patrol a handline (4) to ensure that the burn is contained.
Click image to enlarge. Courtesy University of Florida.

Since 1998, Lomakatsi has been coordinating the implementation of prescribed fire across thousands of acres in partnership with federal, tribal, state and local governments, and private landowners. We utilize controlled burns as a tool to reduce fuel accumulations and return fire as an essential element of dry forests, woodlands, and grasslands of our region. Often this is accomplished after mechanically thinning a forested or woodland landscape, lowering the fuel buildup, and reducing the threat of an uncharacteristically severe fire. This allows prescribed fire to be implemented on a regular basis, or even to allow natural fire to burn should it occur, improving wildlife conditions and maintaining the landscape in a more resilient condition.

There are numerous prescribed fire techniques, all of which require exceptional organization, skill, preparation, and execution. Prescribed fire methods and prescriptions are very site-specific. The details involved in prescribed burn procedures are dynamic and can change very rapidly during the actual operation as weather and other site conditions shift. Working with landowners, Lomakatsi has developed and implemented site-specific restoration prescriptions for private lands that include the return of fire as an essential component for accomplishment of long-term ecological objectives.

As a private property owner, if you are interested in engaging Lomakatsi to develop a restoration plan for your property please contact us at 541-488-0208.

Click here for more information on various types of prescribed burning.

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