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Weather offers good time to conduct fire operations

Taking advantage of statewide moisture in the forecast, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest will be conducting prescribed fire operations across several portions of the forest this week as part of the forest’s hazardous fuels reduction effort and active forest management program.

The projects are located across several districts and consist of pile burning, where hand- or machine-cut vegetation is stacked into piles, given time to dry out and lit when conditions allow.

Prescribed fire is one of the most efficient and proactive tools used in forest management and has several benefits, the most important being that it helps protect communities from catastrophic wildfires. Hazardous fuels such as dead and downed wood, unhealthy and overcrowded trees, thick layers of pine needles and continuous brush fields build up over time and cause rapid growth and extreme fire behavior in the event of an unplanned ignition.

By reducing these fuels using low-intensity controlled fire under specific conditions, the behavior and spread of a wildfire in that area can be drastically moderated. Treated landscapes also give firefighters safer places to engage in suppression activities.

Another benefit of prescribed fire is the promotion of a healthy forest. Prescribed fire recycles nutrients back to the soil, minimizes the spread of pests, insects and disease, provides new forage for game, improves wildlife habitat and promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers and other plants.

“We want to use every opportunity we have to reduce hazardous fuels across the forest using prescribed pile burning,” said Duncan Leao, forest fuels and vegetation program manager. “The weather conditions we are anticipating will allow for more areas to fall within our prescription parameters. Overall, this forecast is going to help us be very active for weeks to come and improve healthy forest conditions across a greater area.”

The forest works closely with the National Weather Service when implementing prescribed fire projects, as weather conditions determine when prescribed fire can safely be utilized to obtain the desired results. The considerations taken into account do not just include the weather at the time of ignition, but also the weather leading up to and for an extended period of time after the prescribed fire operations have been completed. Conditions for good smoke dispersal are also taken into consideration, especially when project areas lie within close proximity of communities.

All prescribed fire on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is conducted by trained and qualified professionals who are experienced in the areas of fire behavior and fire management techniques.

Information regarding prescribed fire currently planned for 2021 can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7310/. Answers to commonly asked questions about prescribed fire can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7310/58958/.

For daily updates on when and where prescribed pile burning is taking place, visit the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Facebook (HumboldtToiyabeNF) and Twitter (@HumboldtToiyabe) pages.

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