Crews prep for fire season with prescribed burns

Posted at 7:31 PM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-25 21:31:32-04

Crews with the Boise National Forest are taking strides to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season, burning thousands of acres across the state.

Prescribed burns are performed during the Spring and Fall, depending on weather conditions.

"Some of the larger areas, it's more of a restoration burn, when you have forested habitat that saw frequent fire historically, we want to make sure we get in there and get larger areas," fuels planner Dusty Pence said. "Those are usually aerial ignitions where we can accomplish large acres such as 2,000 acres in a burn period."

The aerial approach is used mainly in areas hard to reach on foot, but if the terrain allows crews will tackle prescribed burns from the ground.

On April 20, forest crews burned 76 acres near Lowman, using hand ignition because the area was accessible on foot. 

"We don't have to hike people in too far off the road, and we can use engines to support our holding and mop up operations," burn boss Ryan Shannahan said.

"We'll go out with drip torches and work from the top of the unit," Pence said. "The burn unit's usually on a ridge or some type of natural feature and work their way down."

Their goal is to reduce the accumulation of dry fuel on the ground, as well as kill some smaller trees growing between large ones to prevent flames from spreading quickly.

They have burns scheduled over the next several weeks in areas near Emmett, Garden Valley, Crouch and Cascade.