A natural fuels treatment was tested when the Cayuse Fire burned from private and Washington State lands onto the east side of the Tonasket Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. When the fire reached the Cayuse Horse Pasture, firefighters were able to stop the fire’s spread.

The Tonasket Ranger District began implementation of fuels treatments in the Cayuse area in 2004. This included a prescribed burn in an area known as the Cayuse Horse Pasture.

When the 2008 Cayuse Fire met up with the treatment area it slowed given less fuel. Taking advantage of the change in fire behavior, firefighters were successful in establishing and holding a fireline in Section 16, the Cayuse Horse Pasture area, putting a stop to the fire’s northern spread.

Cayuse Fire halted

Costs associated with fighting Cayuse Fire were reduced significantly thanks to the 2004 fuels treatment. Costs for fighting the fire were divided between the agencies based on percent of effort. At the end of each operational period, Division Supervisors identified what percent of firefighting efforts protected USDA Forest Service land versus land managed by Department of Natural Resources. In the end, the USDA Forest Service portion was estimated at 25%, and 75% of the cost was charged to the Washington Department of Natural Resources. The natural fuels treatment was credited for the reduced effort needed to fight Cayuse Fire on National Forest.

For more information, contact Mark Morris, District Ranger at Tonasket Ranger District, at (509)486-2186 or msmorris@fs.fed.us.