Fuels specialists with the Prineville Bureau of Land Management will be burning several small areas around the Priest Hole Recreation Area and Clarno beginning as early as Wednesday, November 4th. The sites are former agricultural fields that now serve as wildlife food and cover crops. When weather permits, crews will burn 38 acres of the Priest Hole Field and 17 acres on the John Day Field – both fields are located along the John Day River north of Mitchell. In addition, crews plan on burning 43 acres of the Sorefoot Field, approximately 1 mile north of Clarno. The burns are expected to take less than a day each to burn, and areas will be patrolled after burning. No road closures are expected.
The burns help reduce weeds and improve the quality and abundance of available forage in the winter when deer and elk have to rely on their body reserves to survive. The better condition an animal is going into winter, the higher chance of survival and reproductive success. Irrigated fields like these promote availability of high protein forage especially in late summer and early fall when many native forage species have reduced nutrient value. Providing high nutritious forage on public lands also reduces crop damage from wildlife on nearby private lands.