Prescribed burns on tap in Eagle County this spring |

Prescribed burns on tap in Eagle County this spring

Fire agencies to fight fire with fire

This is the sort of undergrowth fire managers around the region hope to reduce by using prescribed burns.
Special to the Daily

EAGLE COUNTY— Fire agencies around the region will fight fire with fire, specifically with prescribed burns.

The Greater Eagle Fire Protection District will join fire managers around the region to conduct prescribed fires. Besides areas in their districts, fire agencies around the region will also set prescribed burns on Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife lands.

Why do it?

The object is to avoid a fire season like last year’s, improve winter range for elk, deer and bighorn sheep, and create defensible space around communities.

This is what that same place looks like moments after a prescribed burn.
Special to the Daily

Prescribed fires reduce the amount of highly flammable pinyon-juniper in an area and restore sagebrush and ponderosa pine. Prescribed fires reduce dense vegetation and other fuels to lower the risk of large wildfires and stimulate new vegetation growth that benefits wildlife, said Toni Toelle, the supervisory fire management specialist for the Northwest Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit.

This is what it looks like three months later.
Special to the Daily

Defensible space

Hugh Fairfield-Smith, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District’s wildland coordinator told Eagle’s town board that the agency is trying to create a space around parts of the town that will:

  • Reduce the dead fuel load.
  • Stimulate the regrowth of grass.
  • Stimulate wildlife habitat.

“Together we can make Eagle more prepared against the threat of wildfire,” Eagle firefighters said in their presentation.

However, conditions have to be perfect before a prescribed burn is lit.

“We will only ignite these prescribed fires if conditions are ideal for safe, effective burns, as well as for good smoke dispersal away from area communities,” Toelle said.

Where there’s smoke …

Chances are you’ll see smoke from nearby communities and roads. That smoke should dissipate during the day but might remain on the valley floors as temperatures drop.

Prescribed burns are planned from East Vail through Dotsero, including:

  • In Eagle and Grand counties, the 350-acre Dry Gulch Prescribed Fire is planned on BLM lands about 11 miles southwest of Kremmling along the Trough Road.
  • In Eagle and Grand counties, the 100-acre Geico Prescribed Fire is planned in the same general area as the Dry Gulch burn, but it will be on Colorado Parks and Wildlife lands.
  • In Eagle County, a prescribed burn will take place in the Katsos Ranch area of East Vail on approximately three acres of town of Vail land and one acre of Colorado Department of Transportation right of way. This project will involve burning grasses and scattered brush to improve winter range for the East Vail bighorn sheep herd.

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