MISSOULA — The Lolo National Forest is planning to implement fall prescribed burning projects over the next several weeks.
Most of the burns planned include understory burns with some pile burning to reduce residual slash from thinning and timber harvest operations.
A primary objective for these prescribed burns is to reduce hazardous fuels adjacent to nearby communities," according to Lolo National Forest spokeswoman Kate Jerman.
“Prescribed burning is one effective tool we use to reduce hazardous fuels in areas nearby communities,” said Carolyn Upton, Forest Supervisor. “We are taking a proactive approach with this priority work and treating the landscape ahead of the next wildfire season.”
While several thousand acres are planned and ready to receive prescribed fire treatments across the Forest this fall, fewer acres will likely be implemented depending on conditions.
Favorable conditions include correct temperature, wind, fuel moisture and ventilation for smoke. When these criteria are met, firefighters implement, monitor, and patrol each burn to ensure it meets forest health and public safety goals including air quality.
“We are relieved that we had below-average wildfire activity this season on the Lolo National Forest,” added Upton. “We also know that every acre we treat with prescribed fire this fall and next spring is one less acre burning under high-intensity, unsafe, and dense smoke conditions in future summers.”
Smoke may be visible from some of these prescribed burning operations. Overnight, there is potential for smoke to settle in valley bottoms, but it is anticipated to dissipate within one-to-three days.
Fire managers plan to conduct the burning quickly, with limited impacts to recreational users and the general public.
Fall prescribed fire activities normally take place between September and November and burning is highly weather dependent. A mosaic pattern of burned and unburned areas will remain after treatments; additionally, next spring, these areas will be flush with new, nutrient-rich vegetation.