The Cambrian

Prescribed burns planned through March 6 on North Coast

Years of drought and pitch canker fungal disease have taken a toll on forested, grassland and coastal-scrub areas of several coastal state parks, including Hearst San Simeon, Harmony Headlands and Estero Bluffs state parks. Therefore, when conditions permit from through March 6, officials plan to burn diseased, dead and fallen Monterey pine and eucalyptus trees, understory and piles of woody materials.

Some public trails near the burn areas may be closed when the work is being done.

No burning will be done if weather conditions preclude it, according to a media advisory issued. “Burning will not occur if a burn ban is in effect, or if weather or brush conditions are not conducive to burning,” the advisory stated.

On burn days, smoke may be visible from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and people in nearby communities, including Cambria, San Simeon and Harmony.

If someone can smell smoke, officials urge precautions and common sense to reduce any harmful health effects. Smoke-sensitive individuals should consider staying indoors, relocating activities and closing doors and windows on the day of the burn.

Limit outdoor activities, especially strenuous ones, and remain indoors until the smoke clears. Precautions are especially important for children, the elderly and people with respiratory and heart conditions.

Officials also stress the need to use extreme caution while driving near burn operations.

The prescribed fire program for vegetation management will be done in cooperation with State Parks staff, Cal Fire, the county’s Air Pollution Control District and fire departments. APCD and the state Air Resources Board helped in planning.

The advisory said, “Other treatments in grassland and scrub will reintroduce fire as a component of the ecosystem on a rotational basis.”

Prescribed burns, as they’re called, also can enhance the health of the forests by removing diseased materials, restoring essential nutrients to the soil and reducing the chance of a catastrophic wildfire by reducing dangerous fuel loads adjacent to residences.

For more specific details on burn dates and locations, follow @SLOCleanAir on Twitter, or go to www.slocleanair.org.

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