Forest Service plans deer habitat improvement burn
The Sloat deer herd ranges north to Moonlight Valley, west to Meadow Valley and south to Graeagle. Key wintering areas are in American, Genesee and Indian valleys as well as the Middle Fork Feather River. Photo courtesy Plumas National Forest
If weather and fuel conditions are just right, Forest Service firefighters will use fire to improve the brush, grasses and other vegetation used for food by deer and other wildlife in the Mount Hough State Game Refuge on the Plumas National Forest.
“Fire gets rid of the dense, tough older vegetation and causes plants to sprout, providing access and tender, more nutritious food for the animals in the area,” said Mount Hough District Ranger Mike Donald. In addition, the area will be more “fire safe” should a wildfire start below or within the treated area.
The California Deer Association, Mule Deer Foundation and California Department of Fish and Wildlife are partners in the project.
The planned burn will be very visible in the Quincy area (American Valley), although smoke will likely be visible for longer distances. An information booth is planned for the Safeway parking lot area.
According to Donald, the project may take place within the next two months if conditions are right. “The weather needs to be very stable and the ground fuels need to be dry enough to thoroughly burn or the project will be delayed until the fall of 2013 or beyond,” he said, noting “wetter ground and patchy snow increases our safety margin.”
Firefighters will circle the burn area with control lines using existing roads and building lines where needed. They will burn brush by hand along the edges of the project area starting from the top and working down. A helicopter with a suspended helitorch will then be used to ignite the remainder of the area within the control lines.
Air quality is a significant consideration in the timing of this project. Personnel will carefully monitor local weather conditions and work closely with the local air district and forecasters to prevent serious smoke impacts, although minor impacts may be observed in Quincy and Indian Valley in the morning or evening hours due to local air inversions.
For more information, contact Colin Dillingham, district wildlife biologist, or Steve Causemaker, district fuels officer, at 283-0555.