BLM, wildlife division planning prescribed burn near Meeker
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Division of Wildlife are planning a 766-acre prescribed burn to improve wildlife habitat in the Oak Ridge State Wildlife Area near Meeker this month.
The fire could be ignited early in the month if weather conditions are favorable. The burn is planned in the Seeley Unit of the Oak Ridge State Wildlife Area, about 10 miles southeast of Meeker and just north of Rio Blanco County Road 8.
Burning the oak brush and other mountain shrub species in the area is intended to improve wildlife habitat by providing younger and more nutritious browse.
The resulting mix of burned and unburned areas also is favored by most birds and mammals that live in the area, the fire’s planners say. They hope this improved habitat will alleviate some of the deer and elk use of nearby private lands. The burn also will reduce the possibility of a larger wildland fire occurring in the area for five to 10 years.
The recent 971-acre Jordan Fire seven miles northwest of Meeker created similar benefits for wildlife and fuel reduction, officials say. That fire was started by lightning Aug. 25. Fire managers allowed the fire to burn in the Windy Gulch Wilderness Study Area while suppressing it on its east side to reduce risk to private property.
The Oak Ridge fire will involve entities including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Yampa/White River Habitat Partnership Program, U.S. Forest Service, BLM and DOW. If this year’s fire is successful, burning could continue for many years to improve wildlife habitat in the area.
The fire is expected to take four or five days, and smoke will be visible from Meeker. All required planning documents have been obtained, including state Air Pollution Division smoke permits.