The U.S. Forest Service plans to start prescribed burning now that springlike weather is on the way.
Prescribed burns are usually done in conjunction with thinning and mowing in order to cut down on the number of hazardous fuels that increase wildfire danger.
The fires are set when the weather is good and when smoke will have the least impact on air quality and public health, according to a news release from the Forest Service.
A variety of areas in Central Oregon’s Deschutes and Ochoco national forests may see prescribed burns this year.
In the Sisters Ranger District, five sites are under consideration:
• 170 acres to be cooperatively burned with the Deschutes Land Trust, one mile southwest of Metolius Meadows on Forest Road 500 in the Metolius Preserve
• Up to 400 acres between state Highway 242 and Forest Road 300 near Cold Spring Campground
• Up to 650 acres off Forest Road 1014 near Graham Butte
• Up to 800 acres off Forest Road 1425 in the Metolius Basin
• Up to 160 acres in the Glaze Forest Stewardship area, between Forest Roads 330 and 300, adjacent to Glaze Meadow
In the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, 12 sites are under consideration, most notably a 326-acre parcel a half mile west of Horse Butte on the southeast side of Bend. If that prescribed burn takes place, it could begin in early April, and would likely be very visible for Bend residents. In addition to the Horse Butte burn, the following sites are under consideration:
• 670 acres about 10 miles northwest of La Pine in and around the Pringle Falls Experimental Forest
• 62 acres about 8 miles west of La Pine along Forest Road 44, also known as South Wickiup Reservoir Road
• 167 acres about 2 miles west of Sunriver along Forest Road 41, also known as Conklin Road
• 92 acres about 6 miles west of Sunriver along Forest Road 45, also known as Sunriver-Mt. Bachelor Road
• 43 acres about 19 miles east of La Pine near Willow Butte
• 125 acres southwest of Cabin Butte along Forest Road 18, also known as China Hat Road
• 533 acres southeast of Coyote Butte along Forest Road 1820
• 107 acres on Skyliners Road, 7 miles west of Bend
• 12 acres about a half mile south of the High Desert Museum
• 40 acres about a mile northwest of Sugar Pine Butte along Forest Road 9720
• 61 acres adjacent to the eastern side of Sunriver along County Highway 40
In the Crescent Ranger District, three sites are being considered for a prescribed burn:
• 150 acres on Ringo Butte along Forest Road 6210
• 172 acres about a mile west of the Cascade Lakes Highway along Forest Road 4652 near Wickiup Reservoir
• 97 acres split between two areas west of state Highway 58 near the Cascade Estates subdivision
And in the Ochoco National Forest, five sites are under consideration:
• 400 acres east of Haystack Reservoir in the Crooked River National Grassland
• 2200 acres on the east end of the Maury Mountains
• 275 acres along Mill Creek near Wildcat Campground
• 500 acres east of Big Summit Prairie and Black Mountain
• 400 acres on the West end of the Maury Mountains near Florida Creek
When a prescribed burn takes place, the Forest Service will send information to media outlets, and signs will warn drivers so they can watch for smoke. Drivers who encounter smoke should slow down, turn on headlights and drive with care.