SPOKANE– Annual prescribed fires on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)-managed lands in eastern Washington are scheduled to start in October, as conditions allow.
Prescribed fires are a forest management practice WDFW and other agencies use on wildlife areas and other public lands to reduce the risk of future wildfires, reduce the severity of wildfires when they do happen, and improve habitat for wildlife.
With funding from the state’s 2021-2023 Capital Budget and grants, WDFW is planning to treat more than 700 acres with prescribed fire in the following areas by the end of the 2022 fall season. To view the areas to be burned, click the links and scroll to the map of the wildlife area.
- Colockum Wildlife Area, 500 acres in Chelan County, 20 miles southeast of Wenatchee.
- Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Cougar Canyon, 200 acres in Yakima County, 10 miles west of Naches.
The Oak Creek Cougar Canyon burn is a cross-boundary effort involving both WDFW and Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lands and fire crews.
“By partnering on this project, prescribed fire managers can cover more ground more effectively and safely, which benefits not only both agencies but also the public,” said Matt Eberlein, Prescribed Fire Manager at WDFW.
Prescribed fires are conducted during a small window of time when conditions are in favor of low-intensity burning, such as in the fall when temperatures are cooler and there is more precipitation. This makes burning safer while improving habitat and protecting wildlife. Fire rejuvenates some vegetation and reduces wildfire fuels such as dead trees and plants.
Prescribed fires are monitored continuously until out and crews work to minimize smoke. Even so, WDFW understands that these fires can be inconvenient for those who use public lands, particularly during hunting seasons.
“These areas slated for prescribed fire in eastern Washington include only portions of wildlife areas, leaving thousands more acres available for public access,” said Eberlein. “In the long-term, the work will preserve ecosystems and continue to provide access to public lands.”
All burns are weather dependent. If conditions are not optimal for safe and effective prescribed fires, they may not occur. Additional burns on WDFW-managed eastern Washington lands could be announced if conditions allow. Signs are posted in advance of all prescribed fires to inform people who use these areas.
WDFW manages more than a million acres of land and hundreds of water access areas throughout the state. By actively managing lands, restoring habitats, and preserving wild places, the Department serves as stewards of Washington’s natural places, protecting the state’s land and water for its human and wildlife populations.