SPOKANEAnnual prescribed fires on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) managed land in eastern Washington are scheduled to begin in October, conditions permitting.
Prescribed fires are a forest management practice that WDFW and other agencies use on wilderness areas and other public lands to reduce the risk of future wildfires, reduce the severity of wildfires when they occur, and improve wildlife habitats.
With funding from the 2021-2023 state budget and grants, WDFW plans to treat more than 700 acres with prescribed fires in the following areas by the end of the fall 2022 season. To view the areas to be burned, click on the links and browse to the map of the nature reserve.
The Oak Creek Cougar Canyon burn is a cross-border effort involving both WDFW and Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) country and fire brigade.
“By working together on this project, prescribed fire managers can cover more ground more effectively and safely, benefiting both agencies and the public,” said Matt Eberlein, Prescription Fire Manager at WDFW.
Prescribed fires are performed in a short period of time when conditions are favorable for low-intensity fires, such as in the fall when temperatures are cooler and there is more precipitation. This makes fires safer, improves the living environment and protects wildlife. Fire rejuvenates some of the vegetation and reduces fuels such as dead trees and plants.
Prescribed fires are continuously monitored until it’s out and crews work to keep the smoke to a minimum. Still, WDFW understands that these fires can be a pain for those using public lands, especially during hunting seasons.
“These areas of eastern Washington, which are on the list for prescribed fires, only include portions of wilderness areas, leaving thousands of acres available for public access,” Eberlein said. “In the long run, the work will preserve ecosystems and continue to provide access to public lands.”
All burns are weather dependent. If conditions are not optimal for safe and effective prescribed fires, they should not occur. Additional burns in WDFW-administered areas in eastern Washington may be announced if conditions permit. Signs are posted prior to all prescribed fires to inform people using these areas.
WDFW manages more than one million acres of land and hundreds of water access areas in the state. By actively managing land, restoring habitats, and preserving wild places, the Department acts as stewards of Washington’s natural sites, protecting the state’s land and water for its human and wild populations.