The U.S. Forest Service and partners hope to conduct a prescribed fire on Basalt Mountain later this month if weather conditions are favorable.
The area targeted by the burn is on the north flank of Basalt Mountain, about one mile from Basalt on national forest adjacent to Forest Service Road 524, also known as the Basalt Mountain Road, according to a statement released by the White River National Forest supervisor’s office.
Phil Nyland, a wildlife biologist helping coordinate the project, said Monday that the agency wants to make sure residents are aware that a fire is planned so they aren’t surprised when it occurs.
“If weather cooperates, it could be in the next 10 days that a federal fire crew with help from Basalt (fire department) will burn up to 433 acres,” Nyland said in an email. “To keep people informed, we have a Facebook page where information can be found as well as a Twitter feed soon to be posted.”
The Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/whiterivernationalforest.
Mountain shrub and aspen trees will be ignited to benefit wildlife habitat. The aspen groves in that area have become decadent and are dying off. Fire stimulates growth of aspens as well as Gambel’s oak and other shrubs. That will improve winter browse for big game and native wildlife.
“The intent of the project is to promote nutrient recycling of fire-adapted vegetation communities, to provide an improved food source for wildlife, and to create habitat conditions that will encourage wintering deer and elk to stay in the area rather than move on to lower elevation private land where they may become a nuisance,” the Forest Service said in its statement. “A secondary benefit of the project will be reduction of fuel loads in the mountain shrub and aspen vegetation adjacent to homes in the Missouri Heights area.”
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has pledged financial support to assist the cost of federal fire crews. Basalt Fire Department will assist the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management crews. Colorado Parks and Wildlife supports the project.