The Cambrian

See smoke along the SLO County coast? Here’s why — and how long it will last

Some prescribed burns will be happening in several coastal State Park units through the end of May 2020.

Burns may occur in Hearst San Simeon, Harmony Headlands, Estero Bluffs, Morro Bay, and Montaña de Oro state parks.

The work will include burning in grasslands and coastal-scrub areas, addressing diseased, dead and downed trees, plus broadcast and pile burns in forests and areas where urban development and wildlands intersect and interface.

The parks agency said in a media release that, while prescribed burning typically produces significantly less smoke than a wildfire does, if you see or smell smoke in your surroundings, officials recommend avoiding strenuous outdoor activity and remaining indoors as much as possible. The precautions are especially important for children, the elderly and people with respiratory and heart conditions.

Those traveling near the burn areas may see smoke from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. State Parks also asks that motorists “use extreme caution while driving near prescribed fire operations, due to fire personnel and equipment in the area.”

Some public trails near the burn areas could be closed for the days that the work is being done.

Rotational burning is part of a prescribed fire program for managing vegetation, forest pests and pathogens, reducing hazardous fuel loads, improving wildlife habitat, enhancing ecosystem health and reducing the chance of a catastrophic wildfire.

The work is being done cooperatively by State Parks, Cal Fire, the county Air Pollution Control District and Morro Bay Fire Department.

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