Sequoia National Forest Fire Managers have initiated prescribed burn projects on the Hume Lake Ranger District in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Forest Service fire crews are ready to conduct prescribed burn operations now that weather and smoke conditions have become favorable and will continue prescribed burning as long as conditions allow.
Prescribed burns are intended to accelerate the pace and scale of restoration activities across the Sequoia National Forest and are aimed at treating areas with epidemic insect and disease impacts. Prescribed fires are used to manage fuels in fire-prone landscapes. Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures have led to a historic level of hazard trees in the forest.
Over the past couple of summers, forest crews, contractors, and cooperators piled hundreds of acres of hand piles consisting of small limbs, brush, and trees from felled hazard trees. . The number of acres burned daily is expected to vary due to the multiple considerations the prescribed burn supervisors must take into consideration prior to igniting a controlled burn.
According to District Ranger Carol Hallacy, once the burning is complete, piles may not be entirely consumed by the prescribed fire. “Typically, remnants of piles are left to protect the soil from erosion and promote the growth of new vegetation. Some piles will be intentionally left unburned to benefit wildlife.”
Smoke from the prescribed burning operations will be visible along roads and in nearby communities. Forest personnel work closely with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to manage smoke production and reduce the impact on communities. Piles are scattered between 4200-7800 feet elevation across the district.
“Prescribed fires are an essential tool for restoring forest health in a fire-adapted ecosystem. Fire is a natural and essential process that cannot be replaced by any mechanical means,” stated Hallacy. “Our forest historically relied on frequent low severity fire as a necessary process that results in a healthier forest by reducing accumulated vegetation and recycling valuable nutrients into the soil.”