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600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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March 21, 2018
Contact: Matt Eberlein, (509) 429-4236

WDFW plans controlled burns on
wildlife areas in NE Washington

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is starting to conduct controlled burns this week on department lands in Okanogan, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties to reduce wildfire risks and enhance wildlife habitat.

A controlled burn is underway this week on the Carter unit of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area south of Tonasket in northcentral Okanogan County. At least 600 acres on the Sinlahekin overall may be burned, depending on weather conditions.

If weather and smoke-management restrictions allow, controlled burns are also planned later this month on at least 200 acres of the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in Ferry County, along with 200 acres of the Rustlers Gulch Wildlife Area and 150 acres of the Le Clerc Creek Wildlife Area in Pend Oreille County. 

The burn areas range from grasslands to Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands that have been thinned and currently contain logging debris and slash. WDFW may conduct other burns on department lands in Eastern Washington later this spring.

WDFW Prescribed Fire Manager Matt Eberlein said controlled burns are monitored constantly until they are out, and signs are posted to alert recreationists about them.

"We work to minimize smoke impacts," said Eberlein, noting that smoke could nonetheless make its way down the valleys into town areas, or temporarily reduce visibility on roadways at night or early morning. "Motorists should use caution and watch for personnel, fire equipment, and smoke on roads in the vicinity of the burns."

Eberlein said recent wildfires demonstrate the importance of conducting controlled burns.

"By burning off accumulations of natural vegetation and logging debris, we can reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfires that can destroy wildlife habitat," he said. "It's not a question of whether we'll have fires on these lands in the future, but rather the degree to which we can reduce the damage they cause."

Eberlein said WDFW is coordinating with other agencies in the area to provide assistance with the burns along with private contractors using personnel, bulldozers and other equipment from the local communities.

Maps showing the vicinity of the proposed burns: