Forest Service plans prescribed burns | VailDaily.com

Forest Service plans prescribed burns

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A firefighter uses a drip torch to slowly ignite fuels and burn away overgrown vegetation during the Cattle Creek prescribed burn in the fall of 2017.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit is preparing to conduct prescribed burns on White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands in Eagle, Pitkin, and Garfield counties, weather and conditions permitting.

"Now is the time to prepare for next wildfire season and continue to be persistent and focused on hazardous fuels reduction across the landscape," Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said. "Prescribed burning is a cost-effective way to get this important work completed; in addition, low intensity fire provides benefits for wildlife habitat."

Last year, the fire management unit accomplished 5,700 acres of prescribed burning across BLM and White River National Forest lands, including initial work on the Cattle Creek prescribed burn units, West Divide prescribed burn units and the Miller Creek prescribed burn.

Land managers conduct prescribed fires to improve habitat for big game and other native wildlife, and reduce fuels to lessen potential growth and severity of future wildfires. During a prescribed burn, low-intensity fire consumes overgrown fuels while promoting suckering and sprouting of nutrient-rich vegetation. This year's potential prescribed burn locations include:

• Cattle Creek Prescribed Burn, Aspen-Sopris Ranger District: seven miles north of Basalt, northeast of State Highway 82, up to 2,000 acres.

• Braderich Creek Prescribed Burn, Aspen-Sopris Ranger District: 14 miles south/southwest of Carbondale, 2.5 miles west of Redstone, up to 1,000 acres.

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• West Divide Prescribed Burn, Rifle Ranger District and BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office: 14 miles south of Silt, 2,000 acres.

• Roan Prescribed Burn, BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office: nine miles northwest of Rifle, north of Interstate 70 on the Roan Plateau, 600 acres.

"We will only ignite these prescribed fires if conditions are ideal for safe, effective burns, as well as for good smoke dispersal away from nearby communities," fuels specialist Lathan Johnson said.

Smoke may be seen from nearby communities and roads. Smoke should dissipate during the day, but may remain on the valley floors as temperatures drop. Fire managers have developed a detailed prescribed fire plan and obtained smoke permits from the state of Colorado for each planned burn. For more information, call Johnson, 970-640-9165. Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information, go to: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.