The BLM to conduct prescribed fire operations at Lake Mathews Reserve to reduce wildfire risk


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office

Media Contact:

Michelle Van Der Linden
Controlled burn in foot hills.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Fire crews from the California Desert Interagency Fire Program will treat up to 40 acres of public lands with prescribed fire in the Lake Mathews-Estelle Mountain Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat (SKR) Reserve in western Riverside County.

Prescribed fire operations will occur from January 15 to April 30, and May 17 to May 19, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., when specific weather conditions allow for safe, successful burning and adequate smoke dispersion conditions are present. During the burn, smoke may be visible from the community of Lake Mathews and the cities of Corona, Perris, and Riverside, as well as the State Route 91 and Interstate 15 freeways.

The prescribed burns will modify the vegetation composition and structure to improve conditions for SKR. Optimum SKR habitat consists of patches of bare ground that enable the kangaroo rat to forage for seed and perform other life functions. The burn will remove non-native grasses that degrade SKR habitat. The prescribed fire will be extinguished by the end of the day.

The prescribed fire happening in May will also provide learning opportunities for students in the Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Determination (FI-210) course as live fire training is required for students to practice their investigation techniques. Crews will ignite contained fires in small plots for students to investigate and determine the origin and cause. The prescribed fire will be extinguished by the end of each day.

The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive and prescribed fire is part of an ongoing restoration effort. The Reserve encompasses approximately 15,000 acres and is cooperatively managed by the BLM, the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency, the El Sobrante Landfill, and the Metropolitan Water District. In keeping with the BLM’s multiple use mission, the burn will also restore native forb habitat for SKR within the Reserve.  In addition to the SKR, the Reserve is home to the endangered coastal California gnatcatcher and several additional sensitive species.

The California Desert Interagency Fire Program includes Bureau of Land Management 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.

Additional information is available by contacting the BLM fuels specialist James Gannon at 951-903-4141. For more BLM information regarding wildfire prevention, contact: California Desert District Office 760-833-7100; Barstow Field Office, 760-252-6000; El Centro Field Office, 760-337-4400; Needles Field Office, 760-326-7000; Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office, 760-833-7100; or Ridgecrest Field Office, 760- 384-5400.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.