Prescribed Burning is the process of planning and starting a controlled fire to achieve a specific goal.
Prescribed burning, also called controlled or planned burning, is done to a predetermined area, under specific environmental conditions. Prescribed burns are conducted on days that are dry enough to minimize smoke production and windy enough to that will take smoke out of the Willamette Valley Smoke-Sensitive Receptor Area (SSRA), yet not be so strong as to create fire-control problems. Prescribed burns generally take place in spring and fall, but can happen all year round.
Prescribed burning involves careful research, planning, and consultation prior to burning. During burning, the fire is constantly monitored by firefighters and specialists. The site of the prescribed burn is also monitored post-burn.
LRAPA and Prescribed Burns
LRAPA does not regulate agricultural or slash burns in Lane County; agricultural burns are monitored and regulated by ODA and slash burns by ODF. LRAPA does however, respond to complaints concerning agricultural or slash burns. If you are being impacted by smoke from a prescribed burn and would like to file a complaint, please file a complaint on our Air Quality Complaint Webpage. Or, you can call ODA’s smoke comment line at (503) 986-4709 or ODF at (503) 945-7207.
LRAPA does regulate ecological burning in Lane County. LRAPA issues an annual burn permit to Rivers to Ridges and regulates their ecological burns in the wetlands of Lane County. For more information on Rivers to Ridges, visit their website or their Facebook page.
Benefits of Prescribed Burns
Prescribed burning is conducted for many reasons, including:
- To prevent and mitigate wildfires by disposing of built-up fuel loads (flammable material that fuels a fire)
- To minimize the spread of invasive species and pest insects that threaten native species
- To promote the growth of native trees, flowers, and other plants
- To restore nutrients to depleted soil
- To remove unmarketable tree residue, or “slash”, from logging industries
- To dispose of agricultural waste
Types of Prescribed Burns
Agricultural Burns: Agricultural burns are burns that are used to remove agricultural waste that was generated on a farm. Agricultural burns are regulated and monitored by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). ODA requires that businesses obtain a burn permit from them prior to any agricultural burning activities. ODA limits agricultural burns to a specific designated burn season.
Slash Burns: Slash burns are burns that are used to dispose of unmarketable tree residue, or “slash”, from logging industries. Slash burns prepare the logged site for replanting by releasing nutrients and removing vegetation that would otherwise compete with the young trees. Slash burns also help prevent wildfires by removing fuel loads. Slash burns are regulated through the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). ODF requires forest landowners to obtain a permit prior to any slash burns.
Ecological Burns: Ecological burns are burns that are used to help the environment in some way, such as by removing invasive plants, recycling nutrients, or preventing wildfires. Ecological burns are monitored and regulated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Local Prescribed Burns
The Rivers to Ridges Partnership: The Rivers to Ridges Partnership is a collaborative of 17 public entities that work to protect and enhance the ecosystem of the Willamette Valley. Rivers to Ridges has a controlled ecological burn program in which they conduct several prescribed burns per year. Rivers to Ridge’s ecological burns aim to help maintain prairie structure, dispose of thatch (dead plant matter), and remove fuel loads to prevent wildfires. These functions help maintain biodiversity, induce plant germination, and release nutrients into the soil. Rivers to Ridges obtains a permit from LRAPA and notifies all neighbors within 0.25 miles prior to any burns.
Willamette Valley Prescribed Fire Council: The Willamette Valley Prescribed Fire Council is made out of 6 public entities that collaborate to share information on the use of prescribed fires in the Willamette Valley. The Council informs the public of upcoming prescribed burns so residents can avoid smoke intrusions.