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Ahead Of Summer Heat, Prescribed Burns Reduce Fuels

Brian Bull

Prescribed burns continue through parts of Oregon, including the McKenzie River Corridor where last fall’s devastating Holiday Farm Fire occurred. 

Outside the Delta Campground site near Highway 126, Tiffany Olsen attaches a large hose between a hydrant and a water tender - a truck capable of carrying 1,500 gallons of water.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Tiffany Olsen, Fire Prevention Technician with the U.S. Forest Service, McKenzie River Ranger District.

“Hopefully this will fill the right way and not wash the tender again," she laughed. 

Olsen is with the McKenzie River Ranger District. They’re wrapping up a prescribed burn at a site called Buck 3 this week. 

Joanie Schmidgall of the U.S. Forest Service says these burns reduce fuel for any potential wildfires.

“Prescribed burning has a little bit of a Goldilocks theme to it," she explained. 

"If it’s too wet, we can’t burn successfully because it’ll be too wet to consume the fuel on the forest and to help reduce that fire danger.  But if too dry, then obviously we  won’t burn either because it can be unsafe.” 

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Joanie Schmidgall, PIO for the USFS.

Schmidgall says prescribed burns are only conducted when fuel moisture, weather, temperatures, and wind speeds are ideal.

The U.S. Forest Service has an online map detailing prescribed burns for the region, including the Willamette National Forest. 

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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