Cle Elum Apr. 4, 2016 – Cle Elum Ranger District personnel are preparing for spring prescribed burning.  Treatments are planned in the Swauk/Liberty area in Lion and Cougar Gulch, Blue Creek, Iron Creek, and the North Fork Teanaway. A total of 640 acres are planned and these burns are likely to take several weeks to complete. Operations are expected to begin in early to mid-April, and continue into June, weather permitting.

The purpose of the fuels management and prescribed fire program is to improve the safety of the public and wildland firefighter, minimize intensity of wildfires, and promote healthy forest habitats.  The intent of prescribed burning is to reintroduce fire in the ecosystem, clean up any slash from fuels reduction projects and reduce surface and ladder fuels.  These controlled burns help keep forest ecosystems healthy by improving forage for wildlife, managing competing species of vegetation, controlling insects and disease, and recycling important nutrients back into the soil.

These burns are part of the comprehensive Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Restoration Strategy.  Forest Service managers began implementing the strategy in 1999 to reduce the threat of severe wildfires, bring resiliency back to unhealthy forests, and maintain natural fire intervals.

The decision process for prescribed fire ignitions require accurate monitoring of fuels and weather conditions, and adheres to carefully determined site prescriptions.  Ignitions will only occur if conditions are conducive to meeting the goals of the burn.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources regulates smoke management and must approve all controlled burns on National Forests in Washington State prior to ignition.  All Okanogan-Wenatchee NF controlled burns are weather dependent and fire specialists will cease all ignitions as soon as possible if weather is not favorable for smoke management.

Travel on forest roads may be interrupted for short periods of time; all affected roads will be signed prior to ignition.  Motorists in these areas are advised to observe posted precautions.

For updated or specific information on our prescribed burning program or to be notified on burn days, please call the Cle Elum Ranger District at 509-852-1100.