Tahoe Donner Forestry Department works closely with local authorities to ensure proper safety and air quality standards are met. If there are any immediate concerns, please reach out to local authorities. Homeowners should anticipate the occurrence of prescribed burn activities on open lands as soon as the fire marshal has lifted the burn ban (2023 ban lifted on October 19. 2023). Prescribed fire activity is expected in and around the Tahoe National Forest.

To learn more about wildfire intensity and how it correlates to fuel treatment efforts, we encourage you to watch the following two videos.

Forestry Resources

Defensible Space Resources

Land management objectives encompass a variety of themes, including enhancing fire protection, increasing forest health, removing invasive species, maximizing human recreation, maintaining diverse wildlife and protecting threatened and endangered species. One of the most important objectives of land management, however, is to keep the membership safe, and that is largely done by reducing the threat of wildfire. To see a map of land management and fire history, click here.

Forestry Department’s Prescribed Burn Plan

Part of the defensible space/fire hazard mitigation program is prescribed burning of green waste debris piles, which is industry standard practice on local, state and federal levels.

Tahoe Donner’s Forestry Department crew burns seasonally between October 15 and June 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 90-100% of material created from forest management activities. Since the purchase of a tracked chipper beginning in 2006, Tahoe Donner now chips 50% of material. Due to high volume, access and desired fuel conditions, it is impossible to chip all material each year.

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

Burn Process and Procedures

Fire is a natural part of forest ecology in the Sierra. Prescribed burns are used to efficiently and economically remove fuels from the forest.  A prescribed burn is an intentionally ignited fire that removes fuel and stays inside the containment line.  If during the burn season, a prescribed burn crosses the containment line Tahoe Donner Forestry crews are required to notify the local firefighting agencies who will respond to the area and review the circumstances.  Currently, Tahoe Donner utilizes burning of hand-piled material, not broadcast burns, to remove fuels from the forest.

  • Burn season is determined by the Unit Chief of the local Cal Fire Unit.
  • Individual burn days within the burn season are determined by the Air Quality Management District.
  • On a given burn day the area of piles to be burned on a given day is chosen depending on localized fuel conditions, weather, topography and size and amount of individual piles.
  • No burning will take place on Fridays or holiday periods.
  • Ignition of piles will start at 8:00 AM and stop around noon to allow enough time for the piles to burn down to coals and embers before 3:30 PM.
  • First, a test pile is ignited to see how the burning pile reacts with current weather and fuel moisture conditions of the material in the pile.
  • Each burn crew member is responsible for a maximum of 5 piles.
  • The pile burned during the day will be monitored until 6:30 PM.
  • Piles will be checked daily until they are dead out.

Fire Safety Preparedness

  • All crews carry firefighting tools and backpack water pumps. Tahoe Donner has an 1,800-gallon water truck, hose and nozzles, dozer and front-end loader on standby.
  • A list of burn locations is provided daily to Truckee Fire Protection District and Tahoe Donner’s Member Services.
  • Controlled burn signs are placed on streets alerting neighbors of the burning operation nearby.

Continual review of our operations and programs occur prior each year’s burn season. Truckee Fire Protection District 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 Protection District, Tahoe Donner is working with members to address concerns or questions through enhanced education and onsite staff resources.

Residential Burn Permits

You must get your permit from either Truckee Fire Protection District or CAL FIRE. Truckee Fire Protection District stations are located at 11473 Donner Pass Road, 10049 Donner Pass Road or 10277 Truckee Tahoe Airport Road, which is a combined Truckee Fire Protection District and CAL FIRE station. Burn season occurs every year when the burn ban is lifted (usually around October 15) until the burn ban is enacted (somewhere around June 15). The burn season is dependent on fuel moisture and weather conditions.


Terms For Backyard Burn Permits

  1. Before burning, call Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District at (530) 582-1027 to see if it is a permissible burn day.
  2. Maximum pile size of four feet in diameter.
  3. Area within 10 feet of the outer edge of the pile is maintained free and clear of all flammable material and vegetation.
  4. Responsible person in attendance with shovel until fire is dead out.
  5. Water supply at burning site.
  6. No burning shall be undertaken unless weather conditions (particularly wind) are such that burning can be considered safe.

For terms on the banning of open burning and recreational fires during high-fire conditions, visit the Truckee Fire Protection website to learn more about Ordinance 03-2019: Banning of Open Burning and Recreational Fires during High Fire Conditions.

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