MENDOCINO Co., 10/23/21 — Winter weather has arrived, and with it a series of changes regarding fire risks and road access are being implemented across our region. Cal Fire’s Mendocino Unit has lifted the burn permit suspension as of October 25, and those with valid burn permits will be able to begin burning on permissible days designated by the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District.
In response to the recent rains, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has implemented temporary trail closures in response to the heavy rains, which will may be in place on and off through June, 2022. The Forest Service has also begun to prepare to resume prescribed burning projects in the forest, which will be announced in advance.
More information on these changes can be found in the agencies’ announcements below:
Here’s the announcement from Cal Fire:
Mendocino County, CA- Effective Monday, October 25, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Mendocino Unit will be lifting the burn permit suspension.
CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit Chief George Gonzalez is formally cancelling the burn permit suspension and advises that those possessing current and valid agriculture and residential burn permits can now resume burning on permissible burn days. Agriculture burns must be inspected by CAL FIRE prior to burning until the end of the peak fire season. Inspections may be required for burns other than agriculture burns.
Burn Permits are now available online from CAL FIRE at https://burnpermit.fire.ca.gov/ . IMPORTANT: CALFIRE Burn Permits are only for residents who live in the State Responsibility Area (SRA), or where CAL FIRE has jurisdictional authority. It is the responsibility of the land owner to check with local fire agencies to determine any additional permits that might be required and if there are any additional burning restrictions for their area.
Burn Permits can be obtained by mail by calling CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit Howard Forest Headquarters in Willits, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at (707) 459-7414. All CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit offices are closed to public access, until further notice, to prevent the public and our personnel from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
Burn Permits can also be obtained from the following local agencies (note: the following agencies can only issue permits within their respective districts); Anderson Valley, Laytonville, Little Lake (Willits), Redwood Valley-Calpella, and Brooktrails Fire Departments, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call these agencies to determine their COVID-19 burn permit procedures.
Before you burn, call Mendocino County Air Management District at (707) 463-4391 to confirm thatyou have all the required burn permits and to ensure it is a permissive burn day. Burning can only be done on permissive burn days and is prohibited on non-burn days.
Here’s the announcement regarding wet weather trail closures in the Mendocino National Forest:
WILLOWS, Calif., Oct. 22, 2021—Mendocino National Forest officials have issued a wet weather trail closure, Forest Order No. 08-21-07, beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Temporary wet weather trail closures go into effect when two inches of rainfall occur within a 24-hour period or when the soils are saturated. The wet weather off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail closures restrict the use of OHV trails when conditions are too wet to sustain use without causing soil loss, impacting water quality, damaging trail tread and putting public safety at risk.
These limited duration closures will remain in place until no measurable precipitation is recorded within 48 consecutive hours. By issuing these closures as precipitation events occur, the Forest provides for public safety, protects natural resources during and after storms and allows time for trails to dry out prior to resuming use. The restrictions may be implemented anytime during this fall and winter season through June 2022.
Trail users can check the precipitation data online before traveling to the Forest: https://bit.ly/RAWSdata. Look at MNF02 Portable (Howard Mill) rain gauge on the Upper Lake Ranger District and MNF03 Portable (Fouts Springs) on the Grindstone Ranger District. If Howard Mill rain gauge is inoperable, the Konocti location will be used for the Upper Lake Ranger District.
The restrictions prohibit the use of motor vehicles on National Forest System trails within the Upper Lake and Grindstone Ranger Districts on the Mendocino National Forest pursuant to 36 CFR 261.55(b).
All forest orders, including Forest Order No. 08-21-07 (wet weather closure), are posted here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mendocino/home/?cid=FSEPRD509485.
Here’s the details regarding the Forest Service’s prescribed burning plans:
WILLOWS, Calif., Oct. 21, 2021 — Officials with Mendocino National Forest are preparing to implement prescribed burning at sites across the Forest through the fall and winter as conditions allow. Staff plan to conduct prescribed fire activities during the safest possible “burn windows” in the coming months. Numerous factors including wind, humidity, air quality, fuel moisture and availability of fire crew personnel must be met before crews may move forward with burning.
Planned projects include:
- Howard Mill Piles: T17, R10 Sec 24
- Pine Mountain Piles: T18, R10 Sec 32
Other opportunities may be identified when conditions are met.
Prescribed fire, including vegetation cutting, removal and burning of piles and low-intensity understory burning, is an important tool for the Forest Service’s mission to reduce build-up of hazardous fuels, restore forest ecosystems and improve safety of local communities.
“When done safely and in the right conditions, low intensity fire combined with other fuels reduction techniques can help slow and moderate destructive wildfires,” said Fire Management Officer Curtis Coots.
Fire managers follow a risk-management approach when conducting these projects and mitigate impacts to local communities, residences and infrastructure.
Residents and visitors are asked to avoid areas where prescribed fires are being conducted. Some smoke may be visible. People should not be alarmed as the fires are carefully monitored. Local fire and government authorities will be notified prior to burn days and kept informed throughout prescribed fire operations.