Willamette National Forest proposes controlled burn

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – The Willamette National Forest is asking for public input on a proposal to use controlled fire to burn a large tract of forest in Mount Washington Wilderness.

The Register-Guard reports prescribed fire would be used on up to 1,725 acres as early as fall 2016. The area is northwest of Highway 242.

Officials say that portion of the forest is struck by lightning every summer. This year, lightning started one fire.

Because the forest has a lot of vegetation, a small fire could convert into a large wildfire.

Officials say the prescribed fire would have a short-term impact on the character of the wilderness, but over the long run would strengthen the forest.

It would be the first time prescribed fire is used in the Willamette National Forest’s wilderness area.

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