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Image of firefighters putting out a fire in a forest.
The Bass Lake Ranger District has announced the winter/spring prescribed burn season, with the arrival of cooler weather and increased moisture leading to desired prescribed burning conditions.

Bass Lake Ranger District to Initiate Prescribed Burning

NORTH FORK — Due to reduced fire activity throughout the state and across the country, Sierra National Forest fire crews have returned from their fire assignments, becoming available to support and manage local prescribed fire projects.

Please see the attached maps for general locations.



Image of a row of water hose nozzles.

Image by Ulrike Leone.

This work is a proactive approach to fire and vegetation (fuels) management on the Sierra National Forest, lessening the impact and intensity of catastrophic wildfire seen during the year, providing healthier resource conditions, and increasing protection to our mountain communities.

Sierra Fire Managers expect to begin ignitions in early December. Active ignitions will continue throughout the winter, and spring months, December – March, as weather, smoke dispersion impacts, and fire resources conditions allow. Ignitions may extend further into the spring months, March – May, if conditions remain optimal for prescribed fire activity.

Image of the forest service logo.The U. S. Forest Service coordinates all burning activities with the Mariposa County and 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 Cal Trans and local law enforcement agencies to keep traffic flowing smoothly along Hwy 41, and along Bass Lake Roads 274 and 223.

Local community residents and visitors to the forest can learn more about air quality and smoke by visiting either airnow.gov or valleyair.org.

Image of a firefighter.

Image by Nico Franz.

These projects areas are located throughout the district in both Mariposa and Madera Counties. Fire managers and fire crews will focus their efforts on Bass Lake, with the piles that were developed from the Madera county roads project, but will not be limited to this area. Burning will also be done in areas where recent fires have impacted to aid in fire recovery and restoration, including the Washburn, Oak Creek, and Railroad fires.

The prescribed fire objective is to remove vegetation (fuel) accumulations due to tree mortality, timber harvest work, and fires, as listed above. These burns are conducted within the proximity of urban interface, as part of an ongoing wildfire defense system across the forest designed to slow the progression of wildfires into surrounding communities, such as Jerseydale, Ponderosa Basin, Sugar Pine, Fish Camp, Cedar Valley, Bass Lake, North Fork, and Oakhurst. This fuels reduction activity allows firefighters a safe area to engage in suppression activities. Recurring treatments are necessary to promote ecosystem health, restoration, and resiliency.

Image of firefighters and their hoses.

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger.

Winter moisture is now providing favorable conditions at some project areas and conditions are ideal to begin prescribed fire ignitions and activity. Some project areas require additional winter moisture, burning will be delayed until those specific areas meet desired burning conditions.

These projects may result in a temporary reduction in air quality in the communities of North Fork, Ponderosa Basin, Jerseydale, Oakhurst, Fish Camp, Sugar Pine, Cedar Valley, Bass Lake, Ahwahnee, and surrounding areas.

Burning operations will be visible from portions of Highway’s 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’s required multi-day burn phase, and until all signs of smoke and heat dissipate.

Image of firefighters cleaning up after a storm.

Image by Hermann Kollinger.

A public notice will be issued through the Forest Service’s Facebook account prior to individual prescribed burn ignitions taking place. 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 activity’s please contact the Bass Lake Ranger District at 559-877-2218.

Check out this short video on prescribed burns from the Forest Service! 


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