Big Bear, CA – As the winter storm season moves into Southern California, officials with San Bernardino National Forest are implementing prescribed burning projects across the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountain ranges. Prescribed burning is an active forest management activity that helps restore ecological functions to the forest. Fire has a frequent natural role in some coniferous regions of San Bernardino National Forest. Caused naturally by lightning, fire has long maintained the health of forests, clearing brush on the forest floor and releasing seeds from pine cones, among other natural processes.
Large projects planned for this winter season include:
- Angelus Oaks: 273 acres worth of pile and broadcast burning will occur to create defensible space around the community along Highway 38.
- Bluff Mesa Meadow: This 250-acre meadow restoration project, south of Big Bear Lake, has already received hand treatment work and is slated for a broadcast burn in the spring.
- Baldwin Lake: On the east side of Big Bear Valley, 742 acres of piles created by ongoing contract work to increase and maintain defensible space around homes and road systems are targeted for burning starting in December and into the spring.
In addition to these large projects, pile burning may occur at several U.S. Forest Service fire stations, visitor centers, recreational areas and communication tower sites. Crews will also be out performing mechanical and hand thinning of other areas, which is the first step toward creating conditions safe for prescribed burning. Before burns, forest staff will notify the public and media via social media and news advisories.
The ignition of all prescribed burns is dependent on several environmental conditions (e.g. wind, humidity, temperature, etc), availability of fire personnel and equipment. The projects are conducted in coordination with the National Weather Service and South Coast Air Quality Management District in order to manage smoke production and minimize impacts as much as possible.
Forest officials also highly encourage residents and business owners to do their part by creating defensible space around their structures, hardening those structures and planting native, fire-resistant landscaping. CAL FIRE has tips for all these steps at ReadyForWildfire.org.