PRINEVILLE, OR -- As the weather cools, forestry managers often conduct fire prevention operations, including prescribed burns. But, a large operation planned for the Ochoco National Forest has been postponed indefinitely, because the season has been so dry.
Stacy Lacey, with the Forest Service, says prescribed burns are designed to reduce the risk of wildfire. But, under the current conditions, it could lead to what it's trying to prevent, "The nights are colder, the days are cooler, but the fuel bed is still very dry." She tells KBND News crews are preparing, just in case, "It is still very dry, going into fall, and we have not had any moisture yet. We have firefighters out in the field getting all the lines constructed, getting some hoses in; that way, when we do get moisture, we can go out and still hit that burn window and accomplish some acres out in the forest."
Lacey acknowledges prescribed burns can be a nuisance, but "is very needed on our forests for forest health." She says, "We know it puts smoke up in the air, but the positive side of that is, burn smoke lasts a much shorter time frame, and it's controlled. Whereas, if a large wildfire went into that area, it would be very drastic. It wouldn't be healthy for our forest." But, she says it will be a while before it's safe to conduct local operations, including the 4,685-acre "canyon" burn. "If my crystal ball could be accurate, it's going to still be a couple weeks out before we're going to see any kind of precipitation."