Over the next several weeks, the U.S. Forest Service will begin prescribed burns in the San Bernardino National Forest, timing the efforts to coincide with cooler, damper weather, rangers said Wednesday.
Riverside County residents who live or travel in the area of Lake Hemet and Idyllwild were advised not to be alarmed if smoke is spotted deep within the forest, where firefighters will be burning debris piles.
“Prescribed fires are ignited only when both weather and fuel conditions exist that will ensure low to moderate burning rates and firefighting resources are available to keep fires within fire lines,” USFS fire Chief Shawna Legarza said.
“We are sensitive to the fact that smoke has an impact on people, particularly those with respiratory conditions and allergies,” she said.
“Every effort is made to ignite prescribed fires when weather patterns will carry smoke away from populated areas.”
All burning activities will be coordinated with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, according to the USFS.
The goal of the controlled burns is to rid the forest of potential fuel for wildfires. Officials said the fires stimulate growth of grass and flowering plants on which quail, deer and other wildlife subsist.
Rangers will be conducting burns just off state Route 74 in the Lake Hemet area, as well as along Saunders Meadow Road and state Route 243 near Idyllwild.
About one-third of the 676,000-acre San Bernardino National Forest lies in Riverside County.
Questions or concerns can be directed to the Idyllwild Ranger Station at 909-382-2922.