Union Democrat staff

Prescribed fire to begin Tuesday in Groveland area

South Tuolumne County residents may see smoke during the daytime hours Tuesday from prescribed burning that Cal Fire planned to spark at 9 a.m.

At least 100 acres of grass and understory will be burned, if conditions permit, as part of what the agency called the Gookin Vegetation Management Program to benefit the watershed and protect the areas of Groveland, Big Oak Flat and Greeley Hill from wildfire.

The prescribed fire will also reduce a noxious weed known as medusahead, which will enhance grazing land for cattle.

Resources that will be used to conduct the burn include five fire engines, two fire crews and two dozers.

Cal Fire announced the seasonal suspension of burn permits Monday morning in the Tuolumne, Calaveras and parts of eastern Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

That means all residential outdoor burning of landscape debris, such as branches and leaves, is no longer allowed in those areas until wetter weather returns in the fall.

Residents are still required to maintain 100 feet of defensible space on their property, which entails cutting or reducing any trees, shrubs and other flammable vegetation around a home or structure.

Josh White, chief of Cal Fire’s Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, encouraged residents to find alternative means of disposing yard waste.

“It is essential that residents remain prepared,” he said.

Cal Fire cited the “increasing fire danger posed by the high volume of dead grass and hotter, drier conditions in the region.”

The agency can issue a restricted, temporary burn permit in cases deemed essential for public health and safety. Industrial-type burning, such as agriculture, land management and fire training, may continue if a Cal Fire official inspects the site and issues a special permit.

Campfires on private property or within designated campgrounds are still allowed, though they must be maintained in a way to prevent fire from spreading to the wildland.

A campfire permit is required for any open fires, which includes barbecue and portable stoves, on any federally managed lands or private property that belongs to another person. Permits can be obtained at any local fire stations, or on the Internet at www.preventwildfireca.org .

Additional information on wildfire preparation and prevention is available at www.readyforwildfire.org .

Last year, the agency lifted the burning suspension in mid-November.