OAKHURST – Sierra National Forest (SNF) fire officials will implement their winter/spring prescribed burning program over the next five months within the Bass Lake Ranger District, the agency announced this week.
This season’s projects are on Sugar Pine, Double-gate, Lone Sequoia, Timberloft, Greys Mountain and Cedar Valley as well as administrative sites at Batterson, Jerseydale and Clearwater stations.
The total proposed area for the prescribed burn activity is approximately 1,675 total acres.
These projects will be concentrated along the Hwy 41 corridor from Westfall Station south to the Lewis Creek Trail access, Miami Creek watershed and Sivel’s Meadow areas.
For public and firefighter safety, signs will be posted along roadways where burning is taking place.
Burning is planned for both day and night, to help limit visibility impacts from smoke to vehicles traveling along Hwy 41. Burning may occur during some weekend periods as well.
“The burning is planned to be completed during favorable forest fuels burning conditions throughout the winter/spring months of January through June 1, 2020, depending on weather and resource availability,” said an SNF release issued this week.
“The prescribed fire objective is to remove vegetation (fuels) accumulations due to tree mortality and timber harvest work, within recent timber sales project plots,” the release also stated. “These burns are conducted within the proximity of urban interface, as part of an on-going wildfire defense system across the forest designed to slow the progression of wildfires into surrounding communities such as Sugar Pine, Fish Camp, Cedar Valley and Oakhurst.”
This fuels reduction activity allows firefighters a safe area to engage in suppression activities, such as on the recent Railroad, Oak and Ferguson fires.
Recurring treatments are necessary to maintain defense effectiveness as well as to promote ecosystem health, restoration and resiliency.
SNF officials also cautioned that these projects may result in a temporary reduction in air quality in the communities of Oakhurst, Fish Camp, Sugar Pine, Cedar Valley, Bass Lake, Ahwahnee and surrounding areas.
The Forest Service coordinates all burning activities with the Mariposa County and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to time the project to coincide with favorable weather conditions and smoke dispersion.
The agency also coordinates with Cal Trans and local law enforcement agencies to keep traffic flowing smoothly along Hwy 41.
Local community residents and visitors to the forest can learn more about air quality and smoke by visiting www.airnow.gov or www.valleyair.org.
For more detailed information on the planned prescribed burns, contact the Bass Lake Ranger District Office at (559) 877-2218.