U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are planning prescribed fires for the Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge, Hermiston, OR, Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, Othello, WA, and McNary National Wildlife Refuge, Burbank, WA. These prescribed fires will occur sometime between now and March 18, depending on weather.
“When we do burn, it is only when conditions are favorable for smoke ventilation, and we are careful to comply with all local regulations,” stated Thomas Skinner, Fire Management Officer. Prescribed fires on the refuges are of short duration, but smoke management is always a concern.
These prescribed fires will accomplish refuge management objectives for reducing fire hazards and enhancing wildlife habitat. Habitat enhancement burning targets the removal of undesired and overly crowded vegetation which interferes with utilization of the habitat by native wildlife. Removing and/or opening the vegetation with prescribed fire also increases the success of efforts to eradicate invasive species. Refuge managers limit burning to the fall or late winter months because of the potential for detrimental impacts to migratory nesting birds in late spring and the danger of wildfires in summer.
Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service