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Monday, March 7, 2016

Boise Bureau of Land Management Prescribed Fire 2016

BOISE, ID – The Boise District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Fire and Fuels program is planning several prescribed burns later this winter and spring of 2016. There are three projected burns at this time. The objectives of these projects are watershed research and reducing both hazardous fuel loading and the encroachment of juniper in the sage-steppe ecosystem.

Fence-line Prescribed Burn - The Fence-line Prescribed Burn is located in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area south of Boise. This project could begin as early as February and last until May depending on fuel conditions, tumbleweed accumulations and weather. The burning is targeted at hazardous accumulations of tumbleweeds along fence lines and roadways that create hazards to the public. Approximately 200 acres of hazardous fuels will be targeted but more may be treated depending on the accumulation of hazardous fuels throughout the spring. Fire managers will wait for seasonal conditions such as green grass or snow adjacent to the tumbleweed accumulations before they begin with the project. These natural barriers allow firefighters to burn only the hazardous fuels along roadways and fence lines with little chance of fire spreading outside of those areas. The public can expect to see smoke in the air from some distance, as well as fire apparatus on roadways and possible short-term travel delays on secondary roads due to smoke. To provide for the safety of both the public and firefighters, the BLM coordinates flagging on roadways during burning with Elmore County, Ada County and the Idaho Department of Transportation.

South Mountain Prescribed Burn, Black-lining - The South Mountain prescribed burn is located 21 miles southeast of Jordan Valley, Oregon, in Owyhee County and is 196 acres in size. This project will be conducted in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service and private landowners to study hydrological impacts of juniper encroachment. Each watershed will be pretreated one year prior to burning by cutting and/or slashing the western juniper in the unit with chainsaws. The watershed will then be burned in the fall or the next year after pretreatment to allow the cut fuels to cure out. To allow for the safety of firefighters and to reduce the risk of escape, the unit’s perimeters will be “black-lined” the spring before the unit is scheduled to be burned. This practice occurs in the spring when fuel moistures in surrounding fuels are high and grass has begun to grow, allowing firefighters to utilize these natural barriers to contain the fire. A 50-foot to 100-foot-wide strip is ignited around the perimeter to burn heavy concentrations of felled juniper that exist adjacent to the control lines. The strip will provide a safety buffer for firefighters who return in the fall to burn the entire unit. The public may see smoke on the south flanks of South Mountain March through May, depending on weather and fuel conditions. Ignitions are expected to take one day to complete with mop-up and patrol of the fire for several days after.

Pole Creek Jackpot Prescribed Burn – The Pole Creek Jackpot Prescribed Burn is located 35 miles southeast of Jordan Valley, Oregon, in Owyhee County on Juniper Mountain. The fire is 1,400 acres in size and will involve “jackpot” prescribed burning aimed at reducing concentrations of heavy fuels from past juniper-cutting treatments. This treatment will allow only the concentration of fuels created by cutting juniper to be burned and not the surrounding vegetation. Fire managers will look for weather and fuel conditions that will slow the spread of fire outside of cut juniper areas, including snow on the ground, high fuel moisture or new grass growth acting as a natural barrier. Burn patches will normally be confined to the individual tree debris zone and will be less than two acres, though some larger patches may also occur. The burn is expected to take place between February and March, with ignitions of the unit taking two to five days and subsequent mop-up and patrol of the fire for several days. The public can expect to see smoke on the western flanks of Juniper Mountain during ignitions and for several days afterwards.

For more information about these prescribed burn projects contact Josh Renz at 208-384-3300.