Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest fire managers on the Cle Elum Ranger District plan to begin spring burning in early to mid-April. The prescribed burns are being undertaken to remove post-harvest woody materials, excess fuels and fire hazards in the wildland urban interface as well as improve wildlife habitat.

Project areas are located north of Ellensburg in the vicinity of Reecer Creek and in Deer Gulch near Liberty. 400 acres in Reecer Creek and 100 acres in Deer Gulch will be treated using low intensity fire commonly referred to as under burning. In addition it is planned to burn piles that are located throughout the Ranger District. Up to 500 acres could have piles, which are a result of thinning and timber harvest, be burned this spring.

Warning signs will be placed along roadways entering burn areas to advise the public of prescribed burn activity.  Smoke will likely be visible from Highway 97, Interstate 90, and throughout the Kittitas Valley and should disperse within 12 to 24 hours of ignition.

The burn is part of the comprehensive Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Restoration Strategy. Forest Service managers began implementing the strategy in 1999 to reduce the threat of uncharacteristically severe fires and bring resiliency to unhealthy forest ecosystems.

All Okanogan-Wenatchee N.F. controlled burns are weather-dependent and fire specialists will cease burning as soon as possible if objectives are not being met or weather conditions are unfavorable. Their primary concerns include favorable winds that can minimize smoke impacts to public health and the risk of fire escape.

Forest Service fire managers also work closely with state regulatory agencies, including the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, to monitor weather and atmospheric conditions and forecasts in order to estimate smoke impacts.  This allows the Forest Service and the regulators to strike a balance between minimizing smoke impacts and accomplishing needed work.

For more information about prescribed burning on the Cle Elum Ranger District, please call 509 852 1100.