Crime - Sacto 911

More prescribed burns in store for Eldorado National Forest

People who live near the Eldorado National Forest can expect to see more smoke from prescribed burns after Thanksgiving.

A total of 1,400 acres have recently been burned in the Eldorado forest. Weather permitting, the U.S. Forest Service plans more intentionally set fires to eliminate brush that could burn under big trees and climb into tree tops, causing catastrophic wildfires.

“I know that smoke is not something any of us like,” said Eldorado National Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree in a press release. “Unfortunately, living in communities close to wildland areas includes experiencing periodic smoke from either wildfires or the prescribed fires we manage. Nature has designed forests to burn, one way or another.”

The forest service harvests timber, chews up brush and small trees in chippers, burns brush in piles and uses prescribed burns to reduce the chance of wildfires spreading through the Eldorado National Forest.

“We take community and forest protection from catastrophic wildfire very seriously,” said Crabtree. “The Eldorado was spared from catastrophic wildfires this year, like the ones that occurred on the Stanislaus National Forest to the south and the Tahoe National Forest to the north, due to professional firefighting, fuels reduction work, and luck. It’s a matter of time before the Eldorado is tested again. There’s a lot more work to do.”

The forest service said it has tried to sell large piles of branches, tree tops and other wood debris left over from timber harvests to companies to use for power generation. However, hauling the material out of the forest is costly.

The Eldorado National Forest is located in the central Sierra Nevada, including parts of Alpine, Amador, El Dorado and Placer counties.

“We have a goal to prescribed burn 6,000 acres this year,” said Crabtree. “Whether or not we can achieve the goal depends on whether prescriptions for air quality, fuel and weather conditions, and personnel to manage the fires can be met.”