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Sacramento NWR: Mastication and Controlled Burning in the Riparian Jungle; South Ord Unit-Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
California-Nevada Offices , June 16, 2009
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Fish and Wildlife Service firefighter Corie Favorite uses a drip torch to ignite a portion of the burn area at night while the relative humidity is low. (photo: USFWS)
Fish and Wildlife Service firefighter Corie Favorite uses a drip torch to ignite a portion of the burn area at night while the relative humidity is low. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
El Dorado National Forest masticator working on South Ord Unit fuel reduction project on the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge. (photo: USFWS)
El Dorado National Forest masticator working on South Ord Unit fuel reduction project on the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Colby Smith, Sacramento NWR
On June 16, 2009, the North Central Valley Fire Management Zone along with personnel from the Mendocino National Forest fire program performed a controlled burn on the South Ord unit on the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge.  To reduce fuel loading, remove invasive species and create better wildlife habitat approximately 20 acres was treated with a masticator and a controlled burn; a first for the refuge.  The mastication work was contracted with the Eldorado National Forest.

Riparian jungle mixed with fig trees made up most of the fuel loading in this unit. Fig trees are an invasive species and were the main target for the fuel treatment. Since riparian jungle has heavy fuel loading, a masticator was used before the controlled burn. By masticating the unit, we hoped to accomplish two things; reduce the chance of taller vegetation spotting and torching and to put enough heat onto the ground to kill the fig trees.

On this project we decided to use a combination of pile and broadcast burning (landscape) of the slash materials (downed woody materials) to monitor fire effects between treatment types. Over the course of three operational periods and both day and night sifts, we were able to treat ten acres of thick riparian jungle. We were able to implement the broadcast burn during the day shifts and utilize the higher humidity’s at night to burn piles.

The South Ord controlled burn was a success, with the help from the Mendocino National Forest, Eldorado National Forest and everyone who helped with prep work for the burn. This unit will be furthered studied to see how well this combination fuel treatment worked and if it is a viable option for us as a complex to attempt it again in the future.  For more information contact the Zone Fire Management Officer, Dale Shippelhoute at 530-934-2801.  

Colby Smith is a firefighter in the North Central Valley Fire Management Zone.

 

 


Contact Info: Miriam Morrill, 530-934-2801, Miriam_Morrill@fws.gov



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