Prescribed burn planned Thursday in Cattle Creek, 9 miles north of El Jebel |

Prescribed burn planned Thursday in Cattle Creek, 9 miles north of El Jebel

Staff report
Federal land managers undertook a prescribed burn in the Cattle Creek drainage in 2017.
White River National Forest/courtesy photo

The U.S. Forest Service plans to undertake a prescribed burn in the upper Cattle Creek drainage, 9 miles north of El Jebel, if weather conditions allow today.

The agency announced its plans so that people wouldn’t panic at the sight of smoke. Smoke could be visible from Carbondale, El Jebel and Basalt as well as Gypsum and Eagle. Authorities are urging people not to call 911.

The agency has undertaken two previous prescribed burns in that area to reduce potentially hazardous fuels and improve wildlife habitat. This project will target about 1,800 acres of national forest.

The notice by the Forest Service and Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit said prescribed burns have a track record of helping to control wildfires.

“Past prescribed burning conducted in 2015 on the northwest side of Basalt Mountain led to moderated fire behavior during the Lake Christine wildfire,” the statement said. “Moderated, or less active, fire behavior gave firefighters the opportunity to safely engage the Lake Christine Fire and protect the community of Missouri Heights from the advancing fire front.”

Thursday’s operation will be undertaken from helicopter and on the ground by hand.

“Firefighters and engines will be on scene and will closely monitor conditions during and after ignitions,” the statement said. “Crews are responsible for igniting vegetation, monitoring control and spread of fire and smoke, ensuring fire is held by control features and monitoring fire behavior. Springtime conditions, including wet slopes and snowpack, are favorable control features that will be utilized on this prescribed burn.”