New rules could mean more prescribed burns this fall in Oregon

Sep 25, 2019

New rules could mean more prescribed burning in Oregon this fall.  Prescribed burns are fires set on purpose to reduce the buildup of potential wildfire fuel. The idea is that a little burning during cooler, wetter months can reduce the chance of a catastrophic, out-of-control blaze in the summer.

Prescribed burns are used to remove wood that could potentially fuel a wildfire.
Credit Oregon Department of Forestry

Oregon used to allow land managers to set fires only when there was no risk of any smoke drifting into populated areas. Jim Gersbach of the Oregon Department of Forestry says the new rules allow some smoke intrusion, but not enough to trigger health warnings. “We think what that will do is that will encourage burners, when weather conditions are favorable, to do a little more burning than they might have risked in the past,” he said.  

Gersbach said the new rules could result in 10-to-20 percent more burning than in recent years. The rules apply to both publicly-owned and privately-owned land.

The new rules took effect earlier this year, meaning this the first burning season they will apply to. Gersbach said the relatively cool, damp weather this month has allowed prescribed burns to be set already. The Oregon Department of Forestry posts a daily rundown of expected burns each day.