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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Prescribed burns planned for two eastern Washington wildlife areas

The sign in front of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Spokane Valley.  (Michael Wright/The Spokesman-Review)
From staff reports

Washington officials are planning prescribed burns for two wildlife areas in the eastern half of the state early this month.  

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday that it would burn about 80 acres in the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area west of Newport and about 120 acres in the Oak Creek Wildlife Area west of Naches.

WDFW said in a news release that the fires are meant to reduce fuel for wildfires and improve wildlife habitat. 

The agency said it tries to conduct prescribed burns when the weather is cool and dry, which means they sometimes take place during hunting seasons – some of which are already underway. WDFW acknowledged that it would impact hunters, but said the improvements are needed. 

Matt Eberlein, WDFW’s prescribed fire manager, said in the release that despite the burns, the two wildlife areas cover thousands of acres that will still be available for public use.

No specific dates were given for the fires, and WDFW said changes in weather might mean some burns don’t happen or don’t get finished. 

The prescribed fire at the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area will take place in the Rustler’s Gulch unit.

That work will be done with the Selkirk Training Exchange, a program that trains up firefighters from a variety of government agencies while conducting prescribed burns. The program has at least a half-dozen other burns planned for northeast Washington this fall, including on the Colville National Forest, Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge and the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. 

The burn at Oak Creek will be done at Cougar Canyon and is in cooperation with the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Participants in a different training exchange may work that fire.