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Sunday, March 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Good fires: Prescribed burns set to boost wildlife habitat

Firefighters tend a controlled prescribed burn to benefit wildlife habitat on the Sinlanhekin Wildlife Area of northcentral Washington. (WDFW)
Firefighters tend a controlled prescribed burn to benefit wildlife habitat on the Sinlanhekin Wildlife Area of northcentral Washington. (WDFW)

WILDLIFE -- A highly visible prescribed fire is scheduled to be ignited on a portion of the Colville National Forest today, reminding the public that this is the "good fire" season in national forests throughout the Northwest.

  • Fire and smoke will be highly visible from Kettle Falls, WA and those traveling over Sherman Pass or recreating on Lake Roosevelt .  The Paradise Peak Project is located approximately 7 miles west of Kettle Falls. 

Although their budgets are limited and the window of safe opportunity is small, managers of forests around the region are setting fires carefully planned to sweep up hillsides and burn away thick understory fuels. The burns reduce the chance that fires in future years will grow big and destructive.  

At the same time, because they don't burn extremely hot like a summer wildfire, the controlled burns quickly rejuvenate forage for big-game species.

The Methow Valley Ranger District recently cancelled a planned controlled burn near Winthrop after hearing concerns from local residents weary and wary after Washington's largest wildfires on record raged through their region this summer.

Understood.   But let's hope residents soon realize that well-timed controlled fires are the best prescription for minimizing fire danger in the future as well as bringing back habitat for the region's fire-troubled mule deer herd.

Says the Colville National Forest in a release today:

The objective of these prescribed fires is to reduce the accumulation of dense undergrowth to reduce fire danger and to improve wildlife and big game wildlife habitat. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports these prescribed fire objectives and provides grant funding to the Forest Service to help fund these efforts.  This project is also part of the larger Paradise Peak Big Game Improvement Project, which also includes other large prescribed fire units and thinning units.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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