A wildfire that erupted on public lands near La Pine, Oregon, last week was successfully contained, thanks to decades of proactive land treatments by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Darlene 3 Fire, which began on Tuesday, June 25, in Deschutes County, quickly grew to over 3,000 acres by Thursday. However, extensive fuel treatments performed by the BLM Prineville District Division of Fire and Aviation Management and their partners played a crucial role in preventing the fire from reaching La Pine, a community of over 2,000 people located just 30 miles southwest of Bend. 

Stopping Previous Fires

“This outcome was the result of a series of fuel treatments, not just one,” said James Osborne, BLM Prineville District Fire Management Officer. “Extensive fuel treatments around the city of La Pine done over numerous years have been highly effective in stopping previous fires as well as this one. We continue to see that benefit.” 

Hard Work

These intentional treatments include hand thinning, mowing, masticating, and prescribed burning. BLM teams completed hand thinning work, or the wintertime piling of materials to later burn, as recently as 2021. 

Wildfire Prevention

Wildfire prevention is not the only goal of fuels treatments. “Treatments don’t just reduce hazard fuels to help firefighters protect communities,” said Alison Dean, BLM Prineville District Fire Ecologist. “They also help restore the historical fire regime and the ecological health of the forest. They allow forests to regain resiliency to insect infestations and climate change as well as future fires. The work doesn’t stop after one success. Along with continued community engagement with fire suppression partners across central Oregon, BLM fire and aviation teams will continue tending to the land. 

 

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