Residents and community members near Montaña de Oro State Park may see or smell smoke nearby because of a prescribed burn happening Tuesday.
The first prescribed burn planned for the state park this season began just after 10 a.m. on Nov. 16.
The burn is in the eucalyptus forest, in the vicinity of Camp KEEP and along the west side of Pecho Valley Rd., approximately 0.6 miles in from the park entrance.
After the weather and air quality conditions were approved, crews ignited previously cut piles in the eucalyptus forest of the park. The planned burn aims to reduce fire danger in the area.
Decades ago, the eucalyptus forest was planted in the state park along Pecho Valley Rd. in Los Osos. Now, state parks officials say dying trees present a fire danger of catastrophic proportions.
Eucalyptus oil present in the trees burns at a high temperature. Officials say if a large fire swept through the area, the forest's native resources would never grow back.
"Right now, [the forest's] non-native eucalyptus trees are overstocked, and by removing dead and dying trees and smaller branches, we're reducing the fuel load," Katie Drexhage, Senior Environmental Scientist for the California State Parks SLO Coast District, told KSBY.
The controlled burns are often scheduled after a rain brings moisture to the ground and vegetation. Officials with CAL FIRE, California State Parks and the Air Pollution Control District work to determine the best days for the burns.
In total, about 270 brush piles are due to be burned at Montaña de Oro State Park.
The burn began Tuesday, Nov. 16. Prescribed burns could continue through Friday, Dec. 3, weather permitting.
Burns could start as early as 7 a.m. and last through 5 p.m.