Palisade watershed will be most visible of prescribed burns

The arrival of spring has triggered federal fire officials to order multiple prescribed burns in the area to reduce potential fuel before peak wildfire season.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit has scheduled four nearby blazes to burn more than 1,500 acres to “reduce fuel loads that have accumulated in areas vulnerable to wildlife,” according to a recent release from the agency.

There is no specific timetable for when these burns will start, but Chris Joyner, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management’s Grand Junction office, said officials hope to begin within the next two months.

The most visible prescribed burn will be the Palisade watershed burn in a 200-acre area officials have tried to burn for three years but conditions have prevented them for doing so, Joyner said.

The fire is planned on Grand Mesa six miles east of Palisade.

The Blackridge fire in McInnis Canyons is scheduled to be 77 acres on the north end of Glade Park.

The Nick/Bald Mountain prescribed burn south of Molina is the largest planned burn at nearly 1,000 acres.

It will be split between BLM and U.S. Forest Service land to clear fuel while also improving habitat for mule deer and elk.

The Lapham burn will include 285 acres of oak brush on BLM land about 16 miles north of Fruita in Garfield County.

Using fire to reduce fuel loads is a natural process and beneficial to the areas and the wildlife that live there, the release said.

Fire managers have obtained smoke permits from the state of Colorado for each of the burns, but officials won’t start a fire until conditions are optimal.

“We will only ignite these prescribed burns if conditions are ideal for a safe, effective burn, as well as for good smoke dispersal away from area communities,” said Lathan Johnson, fuels specialist with the Upper Colorado River Fire Unit, in the release.


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