PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Prineville District, Bureau of Land Management has begun thinning work on 622 acres of juniper in the Steelhead Falls Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project area, adjacent to the community of Crooked River Ranch.
The purpose of the project is to remove hazardous fuels, which will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, officials said Monday.
The project is underway. Fuels specialists are cutting juniper with chainsaws, mowing grasses and shrubs, and piling the cut vegetation by hand to burn in the future.
Weather permitting, thinning and hand-piling activities will conclude by the end of November or sooner. No road closures or delays are expected.
“These treatments will help to protect the nearby community and surrounding areas from future wildfires, as well as reduce risks associated with wildfire response for firefighters,” the announcement said.
BLM said the project will also help to maintain and restore mule deer habitat. Additionally, the fuels reduction efforts will promote the health and resiliency of the shrub steppe and old-growth juniper ecosystem.
The piles created this fall will be left to dry for a year or two, until they have cured properly, and weather conditions are conducive for burning. Allowing piles time to cure and dry out will result in faster and more complete consumption and less smoke production when they are burned.
Depending on weather conditions, the BLM may begin burning 367 acres of piles within the project area that were cut last year, starting as soon as Monday, Nov. 14. Pile-burning would continue through December, if conditions remain favorable. Additional notifications will be made before pile-burning begins.
Residents and the public are asked to be cautious when traveling near the project area as there will be vehicles and staff actively working in the area over the next couple of months.
For more information about the Steelhead Falls Hazardous Fuels Reduction project, please contact the Prineville BLM at (541) 416-6700.
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