Where there’s smoke there’s fire, but unlike during the summer months amidst fire season, there was no cause for alarm this time. Prescribed burns began last week across Lake County, agencies purposely igniting small, contained fires when weather conditions allowed to safely burn designated areas in an effort to reduce fire fuels.

Thousands of acres across Lake County have been marked for prescribed burns over the next couple of months as long as meteorological conditions are favorable to ensure that any fires set will remain in the designated areas only and smoke will not disperse over populated areas. The first of these fires was a 300-acre burn on Tuesday, Oct. 6, approximately five miles east of Lakeview, with an additional 300-acre burn happening in the same area the following day. As long as the weather holds firm, burns will continue in the area and other parts around Lake County as needed.

These prescribed burns are part of the ranger district’s Burnt Willow Prescribed Fire Project.  Fire managers have broken this project area into smaller units to regulate fire intensity. Prescribed burns will only occur when the Oregon Department of Forestry Smoke Management office determines weather conditions are suitable for smoke dispersal from populated areas.

“The consistency of the weather pattern is allowing our fire specialists to make significant accomplishments,” said Interagency Deputy Fire Staff Officer Rob Allen.

At the beginning of each prescribed burn, fire specialists ignite a test fire to determine if conditions are favorable for meeting burn objectives before igniting the entire unit. Fire specialists will only conduct burns when humidity levels, temperature, fuel moisture, and wind speed and direction are favorable.

These prescribed distinguish the difference between an arrowhead, ceremonial knife and other projectile points. The new provisions would make it so additional training for law enforcement to tell apart these artifacts would not be needed.

For those who remember, something similar occurred last November due to low levels of still water in county lakes that led to the total closure for about two months. County Commissioner Ken Kestner explained that this year it isn’t a full closure but will be more restrictive. “I respect that they have a legal obligation to protect,” expressed Kestner, “so they are in an awkward place to do something by law to protect the archeological resources.” He added that DSL hasn’t come up with a fine-tuned method to accomplish this task.

Recreationists will be able to walk and take vehicles on the lakebeds though once they pick up anything, they will be open to be cited. Commissioner Kestner said that he is unsure that these protections may not be fine-tuned anymore than it already is.

For more information, contact DSL at 503-986-5200.

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