QUINCY, CA — Conditions are remaining favorable for prescribed burning on parts of the Plumas National this week. However, firefighters are expecting this to be the last week for prescribed burning until fall.
On both the Mount Hough and Feather River ranger districts, firefighters are monitoring conditions for possible prescribed burning tomorrow.
For Mount Hough, there is a possibility of continuing treatment in Butterfly Valley. Forest duff and soil moistures are still too high for treatment to be effective in other priority areas and will likely not be in prescription this season.
The Feather River Ranger District is continuing work to open recreation sites at Little Grass Valley Reservoir. Pile burning was successful last week and there is a need for additional treatment this week, conditions permitting, near Wyandotte Campground.
On the Beckwourth Ranger District, following successful treatment of approximately 181 acres on the Big Hill Project near Cromberg since Friday, including 65 acres yesterday, prescribed burning operations are continuing today.
Firefighters plan to treat approximately 50 acres today. Conditions are being closely monitored to ensure the prescribed burn is still within prescription. Conditions permitting, approximately 70 acres are planned for tomorrow.
Patrols and mop up will continue in the area through the July Fourth holiday. Firefighters have completed mop up 150 feet in from the perimeter of the prescribed burn area.
Smoke is expected to continue to be visible but not have significant long-term impacts to nearby communities, including Cromberg, Sloat, Greenhorn Ranch, Mohawk Valley, Graeagle, Quincy and the surrounding area.
Smoke is more visible from these prescribed burning operations due to the higher fuel moistures, which in turn is providing the conditions for the project to be within prescription. The smoke is generally settling into nearby communities at night, lifting and dispersing during the day.
Short duration, minor smoke impacts are expected to continue along California Highways 70 and 89, and neighboring forest roads.
Visibility on roads in the project area may be reduced, especially early in the morning and late evening as smoke settles. There will also be increased firefighting equipment traffic in the area and traveling on Highways 70 and 89, particularly in the morning and evening hours. Drivers in the area should use caution.
Firefighters are happy with the results on the ground from the Big Hill Project prescribed burn.
“Fuel conditions are prime for prescribed burning on the Big Hill Project and we are getting easy, low intensity surface fire that is doing a lot of good for the forest,” said Beckwourth District Fire Management Officer Don Fregulia. “We appreciate our local communities and their patience while we get this critical fuel reduction work done during this later than expected window.
Work in the Big Hill Project area has been going on for decades and is in a critical spot to protect local communities.
Most recently, planning on the Big Hill Project was initiated in April 2011 under the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act rules. The Environmental Assessment was signed in May 2012 for the 25,624 acre project area with treatments proposed on 5,230 acres.
Four timber sales and three hand thin contracts were completed in the area. Pile burning began in 2018 and in 2020 and 2021 firefighters were able to prescribed burn 150 acres each year.
The units being treated since Friday are part of the McDermott Timber Sale and Rattlesnake Hand Thin Contract.
“Being able to reintroduce fire to these stands under the conditions we have right now is beneficial not only for forest health, but also critical fuel reduction to help protect our local communities,” Fregulia said. “This is one of several key areas our firefighters are concerned about if there is a wildfire and there is some relief being able to make great progress on it the past few days.”
If weather conditions become unfavorable, including increased or gusty winds in the area, burning will stop until conditions improve. Firefighters will be monitoring conditions throughout the operation.
For more information on the Plumas National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/plumas or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/USFSPlumas.