As of Wednesday, August 5, 2015
When conditions allow, fire managers at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area will implement prescribed fires for hazardous fuels reduction and habitat restoration.
Prescribed fires are scheduled for the Courtney Road and Upper Catherine Creek areas in Washington as weather permits. This is an ongoing effort to reduce the potential of catastrophic wildfires and improve forest health.
Prescribed fires and other mechanical fuels treatment conducted in the Rowena drainage over the past couple of years made a significant difference in battling last summer’s Rowena Fire. When the fire reached these treated areas, fire intensity moderated which allowed firefighters to safely build fireline directly adjacent to the fire and stop the forward progression.
Negative effects from the wildfire were also noticeably less. According to the burn severity analysis conducted after the Rowena fire, treated areas had less damaging effects than similar untreated areas.
Prescribed fires are a proactive tool used to achieve a number of resource management objectives including ecosystem restoration and reduction of hazardous fuels (overgrown vegetation). Prescribed burns can help reduce the threat of wildfire, recycle nutrients that increase soil productivity, improve wildlife habitat and increase the resiliency of the treated stands to the effects of wildfire.
Smoke will be visible generally in the Courtney Road to the Major Creek area in Washington and the Rowena Creek drainage in Oregon. Motorist traveling should use caution and reduce speeds if smoke drifts across Washington State Route 14, Interstate 84, Historic Columbia River Highway and other local roads.
The actual day of ignition for these prescribed burn projects will depend on several factors including appropriate temperature, fuel moisture, wind speed and direction. Prescribed fires will only occur on days when the Smoke Management Offices indicate suitable weather conditions for smoke dispersal are present. Fire managers will only conduct the prescribed fires when all conditions allow for both fire personnel and public safety and successfully meeting resource management objectives.