Springtime prescribed burns in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest could start as early as next Monday. 

The mild winter and recent warmer temperatures are giving crews access to prescribed fire units earlier this year than last. 

National Forest spokesperson Robin DeMario says they could be delayed if conditions for temperature, wind, fuel moisture, and ventilation are not met. 

"It's a lot of time due to those other items that are in our prescribed burning prescription, whether the weather is conducive, whether the fuels are too wet, or too dry," said DeMario. 

Forest Service crews plan to conduct prescribed burns across 9,951 acres this spring, mostly in Chelan County. Many times, the goal is not reached because of conditions, but last year the burns covered more than 10,000 acres of the national forest. 

Prescribed burns are used to thin out the forest of items that tend to feed wildfires. The fires also help to reduce the risk and intensity of future wildfires and better protect nearby communities. In addition, they serve to recycle nutrients back into the soil and promote the growth of fire-adapted and native vegetation. 

DeMario says Monday’s prescribed burns are scheduled to take place in the Entiat Ranger District. “It’s about 10 miles north of the town of Entiat is the general burning area for the Entiat Ranger District,” DeMario said.  

Some of the burns this spring will take place within five miles of Wenatchee and will be visible in the area. 

In Chelan County, 6,039 acres are scheduled to be burned in the Chelan, Entiat, and Wenatchee River Ranger Districts this spring. 

Of that, 2,458 acres of under-burning will take place over multiple days in the Forest Johnson, Upper Mud Creek, and Goman Peak areas located 10 miles north of Entiat. Smoke from these burns will be visible from Ardenvoir, Entiat, and Chelan. 

Slightly more than 11,00 acres are scheduled for burning in the Tillicum drainage between Mad River and Indian Creek approximately 2 miles northwest of Ardenvoir and 10 miles northwest of Entiat. Smoke from those fires will be visible in Ardenvoir and possibly the communities of Entiat and Chelan. 

Also on the schedule for prescribed burns is 1,796 acres within 10 miles of Chelan. Smoke from those fires in the Bear Mountain, Echo, and Washington Creek prescribed burn areas will be visible from Lake Chelan and lakeshores, Union Valley, Manson, and Chelan. 

In addition, 350 acres are on slate to be burned about six miles southwest of Wenatchee. Smoke will be visible from Wenatchee and possibly impact the Squilchuck Road and Mission Ridge area. 

Another 332 acres located 4 miles west of Wenatchee will also be burned, with smoke visible from Wenatchee. Number 2 Canyon and Stiss Canyon residents may experience some smoke impacts during these operations.  

In Okanogan County, 725 acres are scheduled to be burned in the Methow Valley Ranger District. In Kittitas County, 400 acres are on slate to be burned in the Cle Elum Ranger District. And in Yakima County, 2,787 are scheduled for burning in the Naches Ranger District. 

The forest has been increasing the use of prescribed fire over the past several years, with financing coming from investments made in the Central Washington Initiative through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. The Central Washington Initiative is part of the agency’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy to reduce the threat of wildfire to communities.

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