BLM burn to clear Palisade watershed

As many as four controlled fires are planned for western Colorado this spring, including one on the Palisade watershed on Grand Mesa.

The Bureau of Land Management, along with Grand Junction and Palisade officials, is planning the 646-acre Palisade Watershed prescribed fire, which is to burn out years of overgrowth and debris about seven miles southeast of Palisade.

A date for the fire will be set as favorable conditions develop, BLM spokesman David Boyd said.

“It’s a pretty narrow window” in which officials will make that determination and then begin the prescribed fire, Boyd said.

The proper conditions will reflect a delicate balance, he said.

“They need the conditions to be dry enough to carry fire, but not so dry that they can’t control the fire,” Boyd said.

Conditions also will have to allow smoke to rise up, rather than be swept into the Grand Valley, he said.

In any case, the smoke will be visible from Palisade, Grand Junction and motorists on Interstate 70, he said.

Officials generally hope to be able to give a day’s notice of the prescribed fire, he said.

The hope is that a prescribed fire will reduce fuels loads and stimulate new, vigorous plant production in the oakbrush area. Most of the area for the Grand Mesa fire, 588 acres, is owned by Palisade, and 58 acres are owned by BLM.

Other planned fires include:

■ The 890-acre Battlements prescribed burn is five miles northeast of Collbran and just west of Brush Creek, in the upper end of Grassy Gulch. The burn will be one to two days and is to be conducted between April and mid-May.

■  The 1,027-acre Indian Creek prescribed burn 30 miles south of Grand Junction on the Uncompahgre Plateau, adjacent to the Uranium Road. The burn will be two to three days and is anticipated to be conducted between April and mid-May.

■ The 1,984-acre Nick Mountain prescribed burn about five miles south of Molina will be two or three days in late April or May.

Fire managers have developed detailed prescribed fire plans and obtained smoke permits from the state for each of the burns, Boyd said.

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