Forestry Department's Controlled Burn Plan and Procedures


Part of the defensible space/fire hazard mitigation program is controlled burning of brush piles, which is industry standard practice locally, statewide and at the federal level.

Burn season in Truckee typically runs Oct. 15 through Nov. 1. CAL FIRE will lift the burn ban only after there’s been a fair amount of precipitation with continued wet weather in the forecast.

Historically, Tahoe Donner has burned 90 to 100% of material created from forest management activities. Since the purchase of chippers beginning in 2006, Tahoe Donner now chips 50% of material. Due to high volume, access and desired fuel conditions left onsite, it is impossible to chip all material each year.

Tahoe Donner’s Forestry Department meets with Truckee Fire and CAL FIRE on a regular basis to coordinate and discuss its forestry/controlled burn plan. A project burning permit from the Truckee Fire Protection District and a Smoke Management Plan and Air Pollution Permit from the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District are required.

As a reminder, the Tahoe Donner Forestry Department was awarded Firewise Community® of the Year this year by the Fire Safe Council of Northern County for their dedication and energy to make its community safer from wildfire.

Burn Process and Procedures

A controlled burn is one that stays inside the fire containment line. If the burn crosses the containment line, Tahoe Donner crews are required to notify the local firefighting agencies who will come out to review the circumstances.

  • Tahoe Donner's controlled burning methods are through burn piles only, not broadcast fires.
  • A burn unit (debris pile) is chosen depending on individual circumstances including weather and air conditions.
  • Ignition of piles typically begins around 8 a.m. and stop around noon allowing enough time for embers to burn before nightfall.
  • First, a test pile is lit to see how the pile reacts when burning with the current weather conditions before proceeding.
  • Generally, a two-person crew is assigned 10 to 20 piles for a given day. Piles are monitored until approximately 7 p.m. and are inspected first thing in the morning and reviewed throughout the day until the piles are dead out.
  • No burning takes place on Fridays. Crews will monitor any pile not dead out over the weekend.

Fire Safety Preparedness

  • All crews carry firefighting tools and backpack water pumps. Tahoe Donner has a 2,000-gallon water truck, hose and nozzles, dozer and front-end loader on standby.
  • A list of burn locations is provided daily to Truckee Fire and Member Services. Member notification of planned burns are listed online and via email. Signs are placed on the streets alerting neighbors of the burns nearby.
  • Planned burning is controlled day by day by the regulation agency. Burns may be cancelled or delayed due to unfavorable conditions.

Continual review of our operations and programs occur prior each year’s burn season. Truckee Fire and CAL FIRE participate in this review and provide recommendations when needed to ensure best management practices of controlled burning occurs.

In collaboration with Truckee Fire, Tahoe Donner is working with members to address concerns or questions through enhanced education and onsite staff resources.

Contact information:

Tahoe Donner Forestry Department | 530-587-9432 |

Truckee Fire |530-582-7850 | Submit your comment or question.