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Forest Service pauses prescribed burns on National Forest System lands

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore released a statement on May 20 initiating a pause on all prescribed fire operations on National Forest System lands due to extreme wildfire risk conditions.

The Forest Service will be conducting a 90-day review of protocols, decision support tools and practices ahead of planned operations this fall.

“Our primary goal in engaging prescribed fires and wildfires is to ensure the safety of the communities involved,” Moore wrote. “… The communities we serve, and our employees deserve the very best tools and science supporting them as we continue to navigate toward reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future.”

Prescribed fires go as planned in 99.84 percent of cases, according to the statement, with very few cases turning into wildfires.

In Custer Gallatin National Forest, prescribed pile burnings were in the preparation process for the Bozeman Ranger District at the Leverich drainage and along Moser Jump-Off Road and Fairy Creek; broadcast burnings were in preparation above Langohr Campground and near Porcupine Cabin near Big Sky; and pile burning areas in the Hebgen Lake Ranger District were in preparation along Denny Creek Road and the Hebgen Flats Area, according to a May 15 press release from Gallatin Custer National Forest.

“The pause I am announcing today will have minimal impact on these objectives in the short- and long-term since the agency conducts more than 90 percent of its prescribed burn operations between September and May,” Moore said.

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