Forest Service planning prescribed burns this spring in Eagle County, surrounding areas
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit is preparing to conduct several prescribed burns on White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands in Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties, weather and conditions permitting.
Prescribed burns are conducted to provide benefits to improve habitat for big game and other native wildlife and help clear overcrowded undergrowth that poses a wildfire risk. During implementation of prescribed burn activities, firefighters will be closely monitoring these burns during and after ignitions to ensure the fire activity remains in the identified boundaries.
As part of the burn plan, firefighters and fire engines will be on scene to keep the fire within the burn unit. Plans for prescribed burn activities are prepared and approved months in advance by fuel specialists. Each plan prescribes specific weather and smoke dispersion conditions that must be in place in order to proceed. Prescribed fires may be ignited with the help of helicopters or by hand crews.
This year’s potential prescribed burn locations include:
• Cattle Creek Prescribed Burn, Aspen-Sopris Ranger District: located seven miles north of Basalt, northeast of Colorado Highway 82. Approximately 2,000 acres.
• Sheep Gulch Prescribed Burn, BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office: four miles north of Gypsum, 240 acres.
• French Creek Prescribed Burn, Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District: 6 miles West of Doterso, north of Interstate 70, approximately 1,500 acres.
• June Creek Prescribed Burn, BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office: 14 miles south of Silt, 727 acres.
• West Divide Prescribed Burn, Rifle Ranger District and BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office: 14 miles south of Silt, 2,700 acres (1,300 acres on Forest Service and 1,400 acres on BLM). A small portion of this prescribed burn is located in Mesa County.
• Avalanche Creek Prescribed Burn, Aspen-Sopris Ranger District: nine miles south of Carbondale, east of Colorado Highway 133, approximately 500 acres.
• Braderich Creek Prescribed Burn, Aspen-Sopris Ranger District: 14 miles south/southwest of Carbondale, 2.5 miles west of Colorado Highway 133 and Redstone, approximately 2,000 acres.
Rio Blanco County
• Miller Creek Prescribed Burn, Blanco Ranger District: 12 miles east of Meeker, approximately 500 acres.
The White River National Forest and the BLM have partnered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on these projects to improve forage regeneration for wildlife. Prescribed burns are targeted to improve large game winter and transition range forage. Nutrient-rich new growth can often be seen sprouting as soon as 10 days after a prescribed fire. A secondary benefit of these projects will be the reduction of fuel loads in the mountain shrub and oak brush vegetation in areas that are overgrown.
Do not call 911 or emergency services even though smoke may be visible. Most of the smoke will dissipate during the day, although some nighttime smoke may remain in valley bottoms as temperatures drop. Any carry-over smoke is expected to be short-term. For more information on how prescribed fire smoke may affect your health, go to http://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.
For information about prescribed burn activities please call local White River National Forest Ranger District offices or the Colorado River Valley Field Office at 970-876-9008, follow the White River National Forest on Twitter @WhiteRiverNews, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/whiterivernf.