Prescribed burning now reduces future risk of forest fire

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, occasional smoke in the air now from prescribed forest burns can translate to less smoke from large wildfires this summer.

Many Oregon forest landowners are currently doing their own form of spring cleaning. They pile and burn woody debris left after logging. Tidying up now makes the forest safer from wildfires when hot, dry weather sets in.

In addition to being uncontrolled, summer fires occur at the worst possible time for smoke intrusion into communities. Often, temperature inversions trap wildfire smoke in the valleys for weeks on end, creating a health problem for some residents and hampering visibility for driving.

Under the Oregon Smoke Management Plan, strict rules govern when forest landowners may burn logging slash. The Oregon Department of Forestry’s meteorologists monitor weather and wind conditions to determine the optimum days and times to issue burning permits. The aim is to schedule burning when the weather is likely to lift smoke up and away from populated areas.

Warm weather came early this year. As a result, prescribed forest burning is ahead of schedule across much of the state.