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Fire season nears; both state and federal agencies are getting ready


   Get ahead of the coming wildfire season
   With summer approaching, the question that fire officials are beginning to hear is, "How bad will this fire season be?"
   No one really knows for sure, but all wildfire seasons are bad, some seasons are just worse than others. This year, to make matters worse, in nearly every part of the state moderate drought conditions may mean a very early start to the 2001 wildfire season.
   The Oregon Fire Marshals Association is urging residents to "Clean up now, to save their homes later."
   To reduce wildfire hazards:
   * Clear dead and flammable vegetation away from homes, outbuildings, and driveways.
   * Keep roofs and gutters free of leaves, needles, and moss.
   * Consider replacing wooden shakes with a fire-resistant roofing material.
   * Screen all attic and foundation vents to keep embers out.
   * Before burning debris, always check with your local fire department for safety and permit requirements, and call burn advisory numbers for air quality clearance.
   * With current drought conditions, consider alternatives to burning such as chipping, mulching, composting, or taking cuttings to a biomass facility.
   For more information on ways to give your home a fighting chance contact your local fire department (447-5011) or Oregon Department of Forestry office (447-5658).
   Prescribed treatment programs in place
   Central Oregon)s federal land management agencies (which include the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management) have initiated this year's prescribed fire and mechanical treatment program.
   The agencies have targeted approximately 48,066 acres of public lands within a 4.5 million acre land base for treatment in FY 01. Total acreage targeted for burning is 31,055. The remainder will be treated through mechanical methods such as thinning, mowing and piling.
    Prescribed fire is one intentionally ignited to meet specific land management objectives, such as reducing wildfire risk, preparing areas for planting, or improving wildlife habitat. These objectives restore the health of the forest and rangelands in general.
   How and when a prescribed fire can be successfully conducted is influenced by many conditions, such as type and moisture levels of vegetation, topography, temperature, wind speed and humidity. All of these factors are considered and documented by experienced fire management personnel prior to any ignition.
   Prescribed burning is a carefully monitored activity that is only done during optimal weather conditions at times that favor the best smoke dispersal possible, in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Forestry Smoke Management Program.
   Spring burning generally runs from March through May, weather permitting. Signs will be posted along nearby roads to inform the public when a burn is in progress. Drivers should be alert to potential reduced visibility in burn areas.
   A map showing areas on public lands identified for fuels treatment is available at www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/cofms/