April 12, 2006 - Leaseland burning makes late, big start
After months of heavy rains and soggy fields, refuge firefighters were able to enter the Tule Lake leaseland farm fields and ignite thousands of acres. Farmers have patiently waited for conditions to improve to the point where burning was effective and worthwhile. In less than three days, refuge fire crews burned more than 9,000 acres of leases and completed a large portion of the Tule Lake component of leaseland burning.
In a usual year, crews start as early as February, burning fields as farmers turn-in their requests. This years precipitation accumulations prohibited anyone from even driving the refuge roads until early April.
The leaseland farming and burning program is a unique US Fish & Wildlife Service/Bureau of Reclamation and private initiative whose roots date back to the 1905 establishment of the Klamath Irrigation Project. Farmers draw leases to farm refuge lands with a combination of alfalfa, oats, barley, wheat's, potatoes and onions. Fields are burned annually to assist with vegetative debris removal.