If you see smoke . . . controlled burn planned near Potlatch State Park today

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UNION — A controlled fire is planned on Olympic National Forest land this afternoon (Saturday).

The fire will be confined to a 22-acre prairie in the vicinity of 2340 Road, about 7 miles west of Potlach State Park.

It is set to begin at 1 p.m. today.

Smoke will likely be visible from populated areas near the burn site. The fire is expected to continue into the night. No road closures are anticipated.

The Kitsap Sun said the fire is aimed at restoring the area’s bear grass savanna ecosystem. It will be accomplished through several more burns over the next few years.

Western Washington’s rare prairie ecosystems were traditionally maintained by Native Americans through periodic low-intensity burns, according to the National Forest Service. The prairies were burned to encourage the growth of desirable plants for food and cultural purposes, the Sun reported.

An estimated 160,000 acres of prairie existed in the south Puget Sound before European settlement halted tribal burning in the mid-1800s.

Only 20,000 acres of prairie remain. Saturday’s burn will help preserve one of the few remaining prairie sites on the Olympic Peninsula, the Sun reported.

About 10 firefighters will work with the Skokomish Tribe, Olympic National Park and various other government agencies and research organizations on the project.

For more information, call the Hood Canal Ranger District at 360-765-2200.

Last modified: September 14. 2013 9:03AM
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