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Bass Lake Ranger District Plans To Initiate Pile Burning

NORTH FORKSierra National Forest (SNF) – Bass Lake Ranger District fire personnel are looking to start burning the piles in the Madera County Roads project around the Bass Lake area, with a total of 567 acres. We are planning to start some test fires on January 30, 2023. If ignition proves to be successful, we will continue lighting the piles. The first target areas will be where there are large machine piles adjacent to private property boundaries, which may also include smaller hand piles as well.

Update 2.3.2023

The Bass Lake Ranger District has initiated the burning of the piles in the Madera County Roads project around the Bass Lake area, coming to a grand total of 567 acres. Test fires were started on January 30, 2023. The first target areas will be in areas that have large machine piles adjacent to private property boundaries which may include smaller piles as well.

This work is a proactive approach to fire and vegetation (fuels) management on the SNF, lessening the impact and intensity of catastrophic wildfires seen during the past years, providing healthier resource conditions, and increasing protection to our mountain communities.

The Forest Service coordinates all burning activities with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and National Weather Service in Hanford to time the project to coincide with favorable weather conditions and smoke dispersion. Also, coordination with Madera County Roads Dept., Caltrans, and local law enforcement agencies to keep traffic flowing smoothly along Bass Lake Roads Rd 223, 426, and 274. Some areas may have traffic control in place, but efforts will be made to keep wait times minimal. Local community residents, please be cautious of fire equipment and personnel that are working along the roadways.

Burning will be conducted on burn days with moderately breezy conditions to provide optimum smoke movement out of the area. Fuels such as stump holes and logs may be extinguished to reduce the lingering smoldering phase of the fire. High-use roads will be monitored for visibility hazards, and traffic control will be provided when necessary. You may see some active burring in the overnight hours of the larger machine piles. Fire staff will ensure conditions are safe and appropriate and coordinate fire staff for monitoring these conditions.

The Washburn Fire from Highway 41 coming into Oakhurst Monday afternoon, 7.11.2022
Courtesy of Richard B Keg

Burning will be conducted on burn days as determined by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District and the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District. Burn days are based on atmospheric conditions that provide optimum smoke dispersal. However, normal daily wind changes might allow the settling of drift smoke in basins and drainages during the late night and early morning hours. By limiting the number of piles ignited at one time and by extinguishing smoldering piles, it is expected that emissions will not reach unacceptable levels.

Burning operations will be visible from portions of Highway 140, 49, and 41, as well as other major roadways throughout the district. Smoke may also be visible from various vantage points in the Foothill and Mountain communities in Mariposa County, Bass Lake, and North Fork in the Madera County region. The prescribed fire projects will be patrolled and monitored daily during the project-required multi-day burn phase and while all signs of smoke and heat dissipate.

CAL FIRE equipment photo by Leonard Andrenacci

You may see CAL FIRE operating in the area as well as they will be aiding the SNF under the Good-Neighbor authority. Additionally, signs will be placed strategically in the areas of these projects to inform residents and the visiting public of these operations for public and firefighter safety. For more information on these prescribed fire projects and associated activities, please contact the Bass Lake Ranger District Office at 559-877-2218.

You can also read more here.

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