Written by Ryan Curtis, Malheur NWR Fuels Technician/Photo by Kay Steele

In March 2021, Malheur Refuge staff conducted a prescribed burn at the Refuge’s 746-acre YoYo Pond Unit. The intent was to reduce decadent areas of vegetation that were not treated mechanically by cooperators in the fall. According to local knowledge this area has not been burned in at least 23 years.

The objective of these burns is to rejuvenate new growth and remove decadent overgrown areas, removing dead or dying vegetation. Implementation of prescribed fire takes a lot of coordination and prep work: Refuge staff spend fall and winter months mowing and cleaning containment lines to keep the fire within pre-determined boundaries.

Coordination with all Refuge staff, from biologists to substation managers, is essential for meeting these objectives. Weather parameters are also set within the burn plan to insure objectives are met and the fire can be implemented safely; these parameters are set to maintain desired flame length and fire intensity.

Some key objectives:

  • Remove at least 30% of dense vegetation along waterways and in lowlands.
  • Remove vegetation and release tied up nutrients, provide underwater waterfowl food (both plants and invertebrates).
  • Provide safe brood rearing habitat
  • Provide better access to water control structures that have become overgrown

During ignition and while smoke is present, there is signage for the public. The burn took place over a total of 2 days. The burn location is South of P-Lane and north of West canal where you will notice an early season burn scar and new growth through the summer months.