Saturday, October 3, 2015

Superior National Forest Prescribed Burn - October 5, 2015

The Superior National Forest West Zone Fire Organization anticipates a window for prescribed burns next week. 

Project Names: River Point and River Point Unit 5

Location and project size:

This project consists of two burn units south of Ely, MN just off Highway 1.

  • An 18 acre unit north of the highway will be referred to as River Point Unit 5 (Unit 5): Township (T) 62 North, Range (R) 11 West, Section (S) 30.
  • The 111 acre unit south of Highway 1 runs along the road into River Point Resort: T62NR11WS31.

Purpose: The Superior National Forest is planning to conduct two prescribed burns south of Ely along the Kawishiwi River to reduce hazardous fuels and wildfire threat to private lands and residences. These burns are the next step in an ongoing effort to reduce hazardous fuels. Balsam fir are highly flammable with low hanging branches—creating ladders which fire climbs up into the crowns of trees.
Historically, periodic fires kept the rate of balsam growth in the forest at a much lower percentage, but fire suppression during the last 100 years has allowed balsam fir to become much more prevalent in the understory. In these units, balsam and other fuels were harvested or crushed with machinery but burning is necessary to kill balsam seedlings and sprouts, giving pine and other native plants sunlight and room to grow. Slash was pulled back from the trunks of large pines to protect them from the understory fire. Mature white and red pine trees have thicker bark which resists fire damage.

Today’s message: Exactly when the burns will be accomplished will be dependent on weather. Shorter days and increased moisture in fine fuels make finding weather windows for fall burns challenging. The smaller burn may be ignited as early as Monday, October 5, 2015. The larger unit may be done later in the week. Aerial resources including a helicopter may be used for ignition (on the larger unit) and for monitoring fire behavior. Another notice will be sent out the day ignition is most likely.

Caution for Travel on Highway 1: During ignition of the southern unit, be especially cautious exiting the Kawishiwi River Bridge. Please slow down and be prepared for heavy smoke, fire fighters, and fire engines on Highway 1 between the Ely Airport and the South Kawishiwi Campground.

This information is supplied by the USFS Kawishiwi Ranger District, October 3, 2015

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