Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office

Prescribed Fire Program

Fire is a primary natural disturbance process that is essential to ecological systems across the western United States.  In the early 1900's, land management agencies sought to suppress all fires.  This changed the severity and fire return intervals from the historic fire regime.  Without fire, our forests and rangelands became overcrowded; vulnerable to attacks by insects and disease; and invaded by plants, bushes and trees not adapted to fire.  Dead vegetation has accumulated greatly, increasing the risk of large catastrophic wildfires in our forests, on our rangelands, and near our communities.  The vegetative conditions that have resulted from past fire suppression policies must be reversed to avoid a continuing trend of more large, high intensity fires.

Prescribed fire can be used to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, and increase public and firefighter safety.  It also can help us meet a variety of resource management objectives:  reducing hazardous fuels (surface or ladder fuels), and restoring habitats and ecosystems.  Today, we know that fire is essential to the health of our forests and rangelands.  Conditions in many areas are conducive to large wildfires, and many more people now live in or near forests and rangelands.  We need to ensure that fires burn in a more controlled way than is usually possible when they are caused by naturally-occurring events such as lightning strikes.  To restore fire to its natural role in forests and rangelands, trained experts employ low-intensity prescribed fire techniques, applied in the spring and fall when weather conditions minimize escape and allow for controlled burning.


The BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office is planning prescribed fires to occur in the coming months.  This includes lands in the Potrero ACEC; south of Banning and Beaumont; the Steele Peak area west of Perris; and the Dos Palmas Preserve near the Salton Sea, all in Riverside County.  Many of these areas contain hazardous fuels within the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI).  The controlled burns are aimed at reducing wildfire hazards.  

In addition to reducing the fire hazard there are resource benefits to endangered species in many of these prescribed fires.  BLM, in cooperation with CALFire and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, will be conducting broadcast burning on 23 acres west of Perris in the Steele Peak area.  The date for the burn has not yet been scheduled.  This project is part of a plan to restore Stephens' kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) habitat.  In addition, the fuel-modified zone will better enable firefighters to control fires that might start in the ACEC and keep them from moving into the surrounding communities.

The burning operations utilize BLM and CALFire fire engines and the CALFire crews from the Oak Glen Conservation Camp.  The Potrero Prescribed Fire is one of several planned projects in Riverside County to restore habitat and mitigate hazardous fire conditions in advance of a major wildfire.

Burning operations will begin at 7:00 am and will conclude by 1:00 pm.  The burning operations will only occur on permissive burn days as determined by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).  Specific dates for the burns will be published on this webpage later in the year.

Please contact James Gannon at (760) 833-7122, or with any questions.

Bureau of Land Management
Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office
1201 Bird Center Drive
Palm Springs, California 92262
Phone: (760) 833-7100
Fax: (760) 833-7199
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., M-F
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