National Park Service Plans Prescribed Burns in Stehekin
September 8, 2010
Kerry Olson, (360) 854-7365, ext 13
Taking advantage of the cooler and wetter fall weather, North Cascades National Park fire crews are preparing to burn two units within the next two weeks. The exact timing of the prescribed burns will be determined by environmental conditions and careful consideration of public fall events within the Stehekin Valley. The approximately 50-acre Coon Run unit is located north of the Stehekin Valley Ranch. The 45-acre Boulder Forest Fuel Reduction Area (FFRA) unit is located just north of Boulder Creek. Fire crews from Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest will assist with the burns.
Prescribed burns are the careful application of fire within defined boundaries. They are only conducted when very specific environment conditions, or prescriptions, are met. Fuel moisture, temperature and wind direction are important factors. The burn plans require that winds push smoke away from the burning units.
Along with manual thinning, these treatments reduce the build-up of fuels, such as sticks, needles and other plant matter, and are intended to protect the community from wildfire. Previous prescribed burn units played a critical role in protecting the Stehekin Valley during the recent Rainbow Bridge Fire. Fire activity reduced significantly when the wildfire reached areas of low fuel and became easier to control. The upcoming burn will continue this protective process. The Boulder prescribed burn will provide a sheltered fuel break down to the Stehekin Valley floor north of the Boulder Creek drainage and protect the road system, which provides the primary emergency escape route for people from their valley homes to the boat landing. The Coon Run burn will help protect the upper Stehekin Valley from future wildfire. Prescribed burns also enhance habitat for fire-dependent plants and animals and help increase ecosystem diversity by stimulating new vegetation growth.
Although mop-up efforts are planned immediately following completion of ignition operations, visitors and residents can expect to see some smoke from these two prescribed burns until significant rain or snow extinguishes the fires.