In first state-led operation in years, Okanogan County imminently slated for prescribed burn

Mar 29, 2022, 2:40 PM
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

For the first time in several years, the state Department of Natural Resources is carrying out a prescribed burn on state land.

Depending on weather conditions, a prescribed burn could happen in Okanogan County as soon as the week of March 28. The effort is jointly sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The prescribed fire operation will cover roughly 250 acres of ground about three miles south of Loomis. The project represents the first state-led controlled burn on state land for the first time in several years.

“We’re starting with our prescribed fire program, dipping our toe more into broadcast burning, which historically the Tribes, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, several other land management agencies have conducted,” Kate Williams, prescribed fire program manager for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, told KIRO Newsradio.

“But this will be the first time in a few years the state is going to be conducting those types of burns again.”

The benefit of these man-made fires is that they reduce the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires. The land-management strategy consumes the brush and needles on the forest floor, gets rid of dense and overgrown growth, and clears the way for more wildlife to expand.

“The launch of our prescribed fire program marks a significant step forward in accomplishing our bold goals of restoring the health of Washington’s forests—and we’re bringing this vision to life through proactive collaboration and partnership,” wrote Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz in a news release. “Forest health treatments, including selective forest thinning and prescribed burning, are the necessary steps to combat our wildfire and forest health crisis.”

Washington state to preserve, reseed two million acres of forest by 2040

The state has a new Twitter account where one can see where the fires are going to be conducted, possible road closures, and information for people who are smoke sensitive.

Burns could continue on the western side of the state through July, depending on conditions.

These types of burns are common in the southeast U.S. and the prairie states. They’re not found as often in the Northwest.

KIRO Newsradio’s Chris Martin contributed to this report. 

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In first state-led operation in years, Okanogan County imminently slated for prescribed burn