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BEND, OR -- It’s not yet wildfire season, but smoke has already been seen across the region. Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, says prescribed burns in the spring are designed to reduce the risk of a large wildfire in the summer.

 

Despite what Smokey Bear used to teach in schools, Kern tells KBND News fire isn't always bad, "That was the best science available at the time, and we now know that that’s just incorrect. This ecosystem in particular, the High Desert ecosystem, has evolved over the eons with this high frequency, low intensity wildfire. We need to be going in there, we need to be thinning, we need to be mowing and we need to do this great restoration work with prescribed burning." She adds that it serves to "put some nutrients back in the soil, protect our communities, especially with the wildland/urban interface, and then also improve the habitat for wildlife."

 

Kern recognizes the smoke can be a nuisance, but she says the goal is to prevent the thick haze that comes with a large wildfire. Operations are carefully planned, "In short bursts, where we have that control of the weather conditions, where we’re working with smoke management to ensure we’re getting the wind we need to push it out of our communities. 

 

Crews worked a 150-acre burn near China Hat Road, Tuesday, and Kern says another high-profile project will take place in the next couple of weeks, weather permitting, "We’re going to be actually burning on High Desert Museum property, and adjacent to that, to give them a little bit of a buffer. These are exactly the kinds of burns we want to keep doing. It will help restore the ecosystem, which is obviously important to us, but it also will help protect a very well-loved Central Oregon resource if a wildfire does come." Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Kassidy Kern, or visit our Podcast Page.
 
The Forest Service provides an online interactive map to track current and potential prescribed burns. 

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