Prescribed burn planned in Avalanche Creek, 9 miles south of Carbondale |

Prescribed burn planned in Avalanche Creek, 9 miles south of Carbondale

Staff report
This photo shows a prescribed burn in Avalanche Creek in 2015. Firefighters patrol the edge of the fire to make sure it stays in the targeted area.
U.S. Forest Service/courtesy photo

A prescribed burn will be held on national forest in Avalanche Creek this spring as soon as conditions are deemed favorable, the White River National Forest supervisor’s office announced Monday.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management unit will target as much as 300 acres in the burn. The work is part of a 10-year project undertaken by a partnership of the U.S. Forest Service, Pitkin County and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The goal is to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and other native wildlife across 45,000 acres of the forest.

This year’s project is 9 miles south of Carbondale, east of Highway 133. Certain conditions need to be met before firefighters will conduct a prescribed burn such as correct temperature, wind, fuel moisture and ventilation for smoke. When these criteria are met, firefighters implement, monitor and patrol each burn to ensure it meets forest health and public safety goals including air quality. As many as 20 firefighters and five engines will be used to monitor progress at the Avalanche Creek prescribed burn. Operations will be conducted over a one to three day period in April, May or both.

“We will only initiate burn operations if we can do so safely and effectively,” Jim Genung, fuels specialist with the interagency fire management unit, said in a statement. “This will be the fourth time over the past several years we have conducted prescribed burn operations in this area. We want to thank local landowners, the Crystal River Caucus and partners for their continued support of this important work.”

A prescribed burn promotes nutrient recycling in fire-adapted vegetation types and they decrease hazardous fuel loads that have accumulated over years of fire suppression.

“Using fire is a cost-effective way to stimulate growth of nutrient-rich vegetation for big game, manage shrub cover for native wildlife and help regenerate aspen stands,” Phil Nyland, Forest Service wildlife biologist, said in a statement. “The project will also reduce hazardous fuels adjacent to homes in the Swiss Village and Filoha Meadows communities.”

Other prescribed fires scheduled this year are at Braderich Creek in the Coal Basin area, Cattle Creek in Missouri Heights and Grizzly Creek in Glenwood Canyon.