Prescribed Fire Program

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources launched its Prescribed Fire Program in the fall of 2021 with the goal of reintroducing a cost-effective tool with a high rate of success for forest restoration and wildfire risk reduction in the dry forests of central and eastern Washington. Prescribed fire is highlighted as a critical tool for completing objectives with the 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan: Eastern Washington.
Skilled professionals within the agency conduct prescribed fire operations on DNR-managed lands, assist partner agencies with prescribed burning on land they manage, and oversee a certification program for people who want to lead or participate in prescribed burns.
A prescribed fire for forest restoration occurs when low-severity fire is applied to the forest floor in order to reduce built-up vegetation while helping mature trees stay healthy and resilient. Trained fire professionals follow a burn plan guided by state and federal regulations that aims to reduce wildfire fuels on the ground, reintroduce vital nutrients into the soil, and restore natural, fire-adapted habitats for wildlife.
Safety is the number one priority of DNR’s official prescribed fire policy – if the conditions do not meet strict and uncompromising standards, we will not conduct burns on that day. 
Prescribed fire is a tool long used on dry-forest ecosystems in central and eastern Washington by Tribes, land management agencies and conservation groups. These types of forests, with their ponderosa pines and other fire-adapted plants, historically had low-intensity fires burn in the understory about once per decade. These less severe fires reduced the amount of ladder fuels capable of taking fires up into tree canopies, where they spread much more rapidly than at ground level. Reintroducing low-level fire to the landscape mimics those of the past.


Stay Informed

Follow DNR's new Prescribed Fire Program Twitter account for up-to-date information on planned and active prescribed fire operations
Sign up for email burn alerts that will be sent out approximately one week prior to ignition of a prescribed fire*
Upcoming Prescribed Burns
Name Season* Location (Google Maps) DNR Region Phone Number
Plumback Spring/Fall 2022 6 miles southeast of South Cle Elum Southeast 509-925-8510
*Burns may be postponed or canceled due to changes in weather or ground conditions. This chart will be updated as needed.
Completed Prescribed Burns
Name Season Location (Google Maps) DNR Region Phone Number
Sinlahekin Spring 2022 4 miles south of Loomis Northeast 509-684-7474
Old Springdale Spring 2022 2 miles east of Springdale Northeast 509-684-7474

What to expect

People in the area of an active prescribed fire operation may see and smell some smoke. After a prescribed burn is complete, passersby may see blackened bark on trees and areas burned debris on the ground. During the year following a prescribed fire, the blackened and burned spots will be replaced by new plant growth, wildflowers that were not there before the prescribed fire, and wildlife taking advantage of new habitats created by the fire.
Unlike wildfire smoke, which can linger for weeks at a time and contain harmful particulates from burned structures, cars and other hazardous materials, smoke from a prescribed burn is most often present for hours or for a day. The Department of Natural Resources follows the state’s Smoke Management Plan to reduce smoke exposure in communities. Still, we urge people who are sensitive to smoke to follow the same precautions they would for wildfire smoke. Information about smoke and public health is available here.