Controlled burns meant to reduce fuels in Eldorado National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service plans to burn more than 12,000 acres in the Eldorado National Forest this fall through next spring using a combination of understory and pile-burning techniques.

The 2016 prescribed burning program includes expanded work associated with the King Fire Restoration Project and the strategy for the South Fork American River watershed, according to a Forest Service news release. About 4,600 acres are slated for pile burning in the King Fire burned area.

The number of acres burned in the coming months will depend on weather and air quality, which may limit the number of days burning can take place, officials said.

“Prescribed fire is an important management tool for maintaining forest health and reducing fuels that could make future wildfires difficult to control,” Jay Kurth, fire management officer, said in a written statement.

Prescribed fires are ignited when weather and fuel conditions will produce fire effects that will accomplish the restoration objectives set by fire ecologists, officials said. Projects are planned in the Amador, Placerville, Pacific and Georgetown ranger districts.

“We are sensitive to the fact that smoke has an impact on people, particularly those with respiratory conditions and allergies,” Kurth said. “Efforts are made to ignite prescribed fires when weather patterns will carry smoke away from populated areas.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after ignition, depending on the size, officials said. Project managers coordinate with state and county air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions before and during prescribed burns.

The Forest Service recommends that people living in or near the forest contact the nearest ranger station if they have a respiratory illness or think the smoke might adversely affect them. They will be placed on a “sensitive persons list” and will be notified of coming prescribed burning projects.

Prescribed fire updates will be posted on the Eldorado National Forest’s Twitter account, @EldoradoNF. People who sign up to follow the account will receive a message when new information is posted. Project descriptions and maps of the burn units also will be posted on the forest website,

For more information, call Teresa Riesenhuber at 530-621-5223, or email

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy