Thunderstorms are common during summer and fall in the Lassen area. Each year, lightning strikes result in wildland fires that help shape the Wilderness around the country. Each year, several of these lightning ignited fires are managed for the benefit of natural and cultural resources. Visitors to Lassen Volcanic National Park may see smoke from these fires from various park viewpoints.
Over 75 percent of Lassen Volcanic National Park is designated Wilderness. Lightning fires are allowed to burn in these particular zones, under specific conditions, and with close monitoring by park fire staff. Factors such as fire behavior, fuel loads, weather conditions, air quality, and potential threats to people and property are used to determine the ability to manage these fires.
Lassen Fire Management Program
Wildland fire has long been recognized as one of the most significant natural processes operating within and shaping the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Mountain ecosystems. Virtually all vegetation communities show evidence of fire dependence or tolerance. Many forest types in the park have been shaped by frequent fire return intervals (ranging from 5-16 years) as evidenced by park research. At the same time, wildland fire has the potential to threaten human lives and property. The fire management program protects life and property from destructive wildfires. The program also reintroduces fire on the park's landscape to insure forest health. The program employs five appropriate management strategies to reach its goals.
Fire Management Strategies
Wildland fire suppression is an appropriate management response to some wildland fires which threaten life, property and critical resources. All suppression actions are implemented with firefighter safety as the highest consideration. Suppression activities seek to minimize loss of resource values, economic spending, and the use of firefighters.
Manual Fuel Treatments
Manual treatment is the use of hand tools or hand operated power tools to reduce hazardous accumulations of wildland fuels and to create defensible space near structures and along prescribed fire boundaries.
Mechanical Fuel Treatment
Mechanical treatments include the use of larger mechanized equipment such as front end loaders, tub grinders, and other large equipment in order to move and process larger material. Mechanical treatments are used only in developed areas to remove larger diseased trees which pose a hazard to the public. Read more about how mechanical fuel treatment was used to improve forest health in Manzanita Lake Campground.
Prescribed fires are ignited by management to achieve specific resource objectives. In some forest types it is necessary to return and retreat these areas with prescribed fire in order to maintain them. These operations are not mutually exclusive and usually all prescribed fire operations contain a mix of initial treatment and maintenance treatment.
Prescribed fires must be described in a prescribed fire burn plan. The plan will contain a prescription defining goals, objectives, and treatment methods employed to achieve the objectives. The park employs methods to monitor areas before and after treatment to insure that fire management operations are meeting resource management objectives.