Spring burns planned for national forests

The Grand Valley Ranger District of the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests is planning prescribed burns in four Mesa County locations this spring, district officials said.

Notices will be posted for travelers on the day the burn is ignited.

The burns are designed to enhance habitat for deer and elk, reduce accumulated vegetation and promote forest health, according to district officials.

The Nick Mountain and Bald Mountain prescribed burns are located about six miles south of Molina. The burn areas, about 1,692 acres in all, are located on lands managed by both the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. 

Assuming good weather and other favorable conditions as required by the district’s burn plan, district officials estimated it will require two to five days to complete the burns. 

In some circumstances, ignition may occur through the use of a helicopter to provide for firefighter safety and increase efficiency, according to the district’s burn plan.

The Indian Creek and the Campbell Point prescribed burns are located, respectively, about 12 and 18 miles southeast of Gateway. 

The Indian Creek burn includes 1,026 acres of oak brush. The Campbell Point burn totals approximately 300 acres of native ponderosa pine stands over a mechanically treated oak brush understory, according to the plan. Sixty acres of this area was burned last fall.

“The project proposes to ... improve wildlife browse and forage habitat and to reduce the natural build-up of fuels,” said Bill Edwards, district ranger for the Grand Valley Ranger District. 

Extensive planning was required to set up the burns. Initial work involved evaluating alternatives to prescribed fire and identifying anticipated fire effects. 

Next, forest service staff developed detailed plans to carry out the prescribed burns. Burn plans are ready for use this spring under favorable conditions, Edwards said.

Conditions must be consistent with the prescribed burn plans and meet the requirements of smoke permits issued by the Colorado, he said.

Burning will not occur if weather, staffing and smoke dispersal conditions are compliant, Edwards said.

Notice of plans to burn will be issued the day of the burn. The forest service will post signs on main access routes where burning occurs to alert travelers in the area, district officials said.


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