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WDFW Plans Controlled Burns On Wildlife Areas In Northeast Washington


Starting this month, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) hopes to conduct controlled burns on parts of the Sinlahekin, Scotch Creek, and Sherman Creek wildlife areas in northeast Washington to reduce wildfire risks and enhance wildlife habitat.

Depending on weather conditions and approval from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), controlled burns could start as early as April 12 on a total of 27 acres of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County.

Also planned for burning this spring are:

248 acres of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in the Chesaw area of Okanogan County.

1,038 acres in 14 units ranging from 10 to 185 acres of the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in Ferry County; those units are just south of the Inchelium Highway, just north of Sherman Creek in the Sherman Homes and Fish Hatchery area, the South Fork of Sherman Creek, and the Bisbee Mountain area.

The project areas range from grasslands to ponderosa pine stands that have been thinned and currently contain logging debris and slash.

WDFW Wildlife Area Fuels Manager Tom Leuschen said controlled burns are monitored constantly until they are out and signs will be posted to alert recreationists about them.

“We will be working to minimize smoke impacts,” Leuschen said. Smoke could make its way into the town of Kettle Falls or temporarily cut visibility on highways 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.”

“Recent wildfires demonstrate the importance of conducting controlled burns,” Leuschen said. “By burning off brush and other fuels, we can reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfires that can destroy wildlife habitat. 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.”

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


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