Prescribed Dos Palmas Preserve Burn Blooms Beyond Planned Area: BLM

MECCA, CA —A Bureau of Land Management prescribed fire to restore habitats for two endangered species near the Salton Sea ballooned out of control Tuesday, leading that agency to call for assistance from nearby agencies, officials say. As of 1:3o p.m. that fire was burning at 75 acres with no containment, according to Cal Fire officials. The BLM is the lead agency in battling the blaze.

Fire crews from the BLM and the California Desert Interagency Fire Program were treating up to 160 acres of public lands with prescribed fire in the Dos Palmas Preserve in central Riverside County when, at some point, the blaze expanded beyond the initial parameters. Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department confirmed they are assisting in battling the blaze as of 1:30 p.m.

The prescribed fire was initially scheduled between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday, a spokesperson for the BLM said. The burn would only take place if specific weather conditions allow for safe, successful burning and adequate smoke dispersion conditions are present, they said in a news release prepared last week.

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Smoke was to be visible from the North Shore and State Route 11 community, according to Paul Gibbs, District Fire Management officer for the BLM.

The Dos Palmas Preserve encompasses approximately 14,000 acres and is cooperatively managed by the BLM and the Center for Natural Lands Management. In addition to the palm oases, the Preserve is home to the desert pupfish and Yuma Ridgway’s rail and provides essential wetland areas for several migratory bird species, Gibbs said in his original news release about the prescribed burn.

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The California Desert Interagency Fire Program includes the BLM and National Park Service firefighting resources that cover Death Valley National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, and BLM’s California Desert District. As an interagency unit, fire personnel share responsibilities and equipment to effectively manage the California Desert Fire Program.

The effort was to restore habitat for the endangered pupfish and endangered Yuma Ridgway’s Rail.

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