Kawishiwi District completes prescribed fires

Flames along Hwy. 1. Photo by Jenn Cole-Foster.

Kawishiwi Ranger District crews completed ignition on two Prescribed Fire Units over the weekend, the Pitcha Pine and North School Section Units.
A total of about 1,200 acres were burned as part of a plan for several prescribed fire projects that may occur this spring.
Forest personnel were assisted by the Lake Vermillion Fire Brigade and the Black Hills (SD), Kootenai (MT), Daniel Boone (KY), Chippewa (MN), Lolo (MT), and Nebraska (NB) National Forests, plus Minnesota state personnel.
Ignition was completed on June 1st on the Pitcha Pine Prescribed Fire.
A total of about 500 acres of burning was completed. This included approximately an 18 acre spot fire which burned in an adjacent unit that was planned for later this year.
The spot fire was quickly suppressed east of Highway 1 but still within the overall prescribed fire project boundary. Fixed wing and helicopter aircraft responded to the spotting and doused the fire.
The public should be aware that fire damaged trees are still a hazard on the Jackpot Trail and to please use caution while recreating in this area.
Crews will continue monitoring and evaluating the fire as it continues to smolder in the interior of the unit in the coming days.
The Pitcha Pine Prescribed Fire Units were burned to meet multiple Forest management objectives, including using low to moderate intensity fire to maintain or increase species diversity.
It is anticipated that understory prescribed fire will need to be used in these stands of white pine and red pine multiple times in order to reduce species competition and achieve stand objectives.
On June 2, crews burned about 700 acres in the North School Section Prescribed Fire Project on Burntside Lake.
Firefighters accessed the unit via watercraft in several locations around the peninsula. Ground and aerial (helicopter) ignition tactics were utilized.
Weather conditions were favorable to disperse smoke and keep the fire low on the ground.
The North School Section Prescribed Fire Unit is a part of the North Arm Fuels Reduction Project encompassing several fuels treatment areas on or near Burntside Lake.
These areas were identified for treatment to reduce fire risk in the wildland-urban interface to protect private property and YMCA camps.
The prescribed fire units contained understory fuels of dense balsam fire with an overstory of mature pine and mixed hardwoods.
Prescribed fires are designed to reduce fuels by removing needles and other surface litter as well as balsam fir, a volatile ladder fuel that carries fire into the tree crown, to create and maintain a more open understory.
This decreases the potential for a larger wildfires to start and spread. Regular prescribed fire treatments also create a patchwork or mosaic of fire-resistant forest stands in the landscape that can also moderate the intensity of future wildfires.
Precise ignition methods were utilized to start both fires, and natural topographical features were used to control and hold the fire within the planned project boundaries.
Hose-lays supplied by water pumps or other water delivery equipment supplemented the holding actions where needed.
Fire fighters protected the five campsites in the North School Section with water pumps and then hand-ignited the perimeter to prepare them for the aerial ignition.
Additional prescribed fires may occur this spring if conditions are favorable, depending on fuel moisture, relative humidity, temperature and wind. Exact dates will determined by weather conditions as they develop.
You can keep informed on projects at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov