NORTH FORK –Residents and visitors on the Bass Lake Ranger District may see smoke in the coming months as Sierra National Forest fire managers implement their 2018/2019 fall/winter/spring burning program.
The projects will consist of two activities: pile burning and understory burning. These burn projects are widely dispersed throughout the Ranger District, with many located at the higher elevations.
Some burns will be near populated areas and may result in a temporary reduction in air quality in the communities of Mariposa, Ahwahnee, Oakhurst, Fish Camp, Sugar Pine, Cedar Valley, Bass Lake, Cascadel, North Fork and surrounding area.
Burning within proximity of populated areas is part of an ongoing wildfire defense system across the Forest, say officials, designed to slow or stop the progression of wildfires into surrounding communities and allow firefighters a safe area to engage in suppression activities. Recurring treatments are necessary to maintain the effectiveness as well as promote ecosystem restoration objectives.
Fire objectives for both pile and understory burning are to remove vegetation (fuel) accumulations due to tree mortality, timber harvest, and reforestation actions. The removal of these fuels helps to reduce the risk of a wildfire that would cause damage to wildlife habitat, watersheds, and private property.
Understory burning projects consist of the Sugar Pine, Grey’s Mountain, Whiskey Ridge, Fish Camp, Doublegate, Lone Sequoia and Timberloft Project Areas (see map links below). Burning is to take place in the fall, winter and spring, and may include weekends.
For public safety and the safety of fire crews, signs will be posted along roadways entering areas where burning is taking place
Fire managers are burning during cooler and wetter times of the year when fire is less intense, easier to control and produces significantly less smoke than a wildfire during hotter drier summer months.
“In the Sierra, fire is an essential ecosystem component, recycling nutrients to the soil, opening gaps in the canopy that encourage regeneration, which leads to greater biodiversity for both plants and animals,” say SNF officials. “Many plants on the forest germinate during or just after a fire, and many animals find recently burned areas ideal nests and granaries.
“All prescribed burns are conducted in close coordination with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in order to reduce impacts for both communities and the public by finding weather windows with good smoke dispersion.”
For more information on the planned prescribed burns, contact the Bass Lake Ranger District Office at (559) 877-2218.