Prescribed Burning in the Deschutes Forest

Prescribed Burning in Progress

Our Forests Need Fire

Natural, low-intensity fires burning every 10 to 25 years kept our mid and lower elevation forests healthy for millennia. In fact, this kind of fire is essential for certain plants and wildlife, for cycling nutrients and for sustaining a healthy forest ecosystem.

The Forest is Counting on Us

After nearly a century of aggressively fighting to keep fire out, our forests are overly-dense and in need of restoration, like thinning and prescribed fire. These actions reduce the risk posed by the out-of-control wildfires that are all too common today.

Prescribed Fire: an Essential Tool

Research has shown that thinning followed by prescribed fire is the best way to make our forests healthier. Prescribed burns make our forests more resilient, create homes for a diversity of wildlife, and keep our community safer from future wildfire.

We are accepting a little smoke now to make our forests healthier and our communities safer.

We share our community's concerns regarding health, visibility and livability related to smoke produced by prescribed fires. And we know that prescribed burns are a critical step in forest restoration. Research shows that in addition to sustaining important forest ecosystem functions, they significantly reduce the likelihood of out-of-control fires, the kind that mean danger for our communities and hazardous air for weeks at a time.


  • Prescribed burns, which are primarily conducted in spring and fall, are carefully planned and implemented under prescribed conditions of temperature, wind and humidity. This ensures they can be safely controlled and reduces the likelihood that smoke will blow into nearby communities. Nonetheless, some smoke in the air is inevitable.
  • Prescribed burns are conducted by professionals with strong ecological understanding of fire-adapted forests, applying decades of on-the-ground knowledge, and cutting-edge fire and smoke modeling tools.
  • All prescribed burns must comply with the Oregon Smoke Management Plan to minimize impacts to communities and sensitive individuals.
  • For Central Oregonians, our choice is not between "lots of fire" or "no fire". We must choose between an unhealthy forest full of nearly a century of unburned fuel, or a restored forest that is resilient to the natural process of fire. Smoke is part of that natural process. So some smoke in the air is often a sign that important forest restoration work is getting done in a forest near you.

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The FLN is supported by Promoting Ecosystem Resilience and Fire Adapted Communities Together: Collaborative Engagement, Collective Action and Co-ownership of Fire, a cooperative agreement between The Nature Conservancy, USDA Forest Service and agencies of the Department of the Interior.

The FLN is supported by Promoting Ecosystem Resilience and Fire Adapted Communities Together: Collaborative Engagement, Collective Action and Co-ownership of Fire, a cooperative agreement between The Nature Conservancy, USDA Forest Service and agencies of the Department of the Interior.

2017 Central Oregon Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX)

Between May 1-12, 2017 more than 35 prescribed fire professionals from around the country and representing more than a dozen organizations will gather in Central Oregon for twelve days of applied, on-the-ground training on prescribed fire use. Sponsored by the Deschutes Fire Learning Network in partnership with the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, this TREX training will focus on the ecological and social dimensions of using fire to make our forests healthier, keep our communities safer, and improve habitat for our native plants and animals that depend on fire. Since 2008 more than 44 TREX events in ten states have contributed to more nearly 80,000 acres burned and 1,538 fire professionals acquiring new knowledge and skills.

We are fortunate to have these professionals coming to Central Oregon to advance their knowledge and skills in prescribed fire use, which they will then take home to help their own communities and the natural areas that they love. Once again Central Oregon is proving to be an innovator and leader as we work together to steward our forests for current and future generations.

2015 Central Oregon TREX participants receiving a morning briefing on the day’s prescribed fire operation.

Central Oregon TREX participants receiving a morning briefing on the day’s prescribed fire operation.

2015 Central Oregon TREX applying fire under carefully prescribed conditions to help restore this ponderosa forest.

Trained fire professionals applying fire under carefully prescribed conditions to help restore this ponderosa forest.

2015 Central Oregon TREX doing an after action review to discuss outcomes and lessons learned of a prescribed fire.

Central Oregon TREX participants in an after action review to discuss outcomes and lessons learned of a prescribed fire.