Prescribed burn planned on Basalt Mountain | AspenTimes.com

Prescribed burn planned on Basalt Mountain

Staff report

The U.S. Forest Service wants midvalley residents to be aware that a prescribed burn is expected to begin on Basalt Mountain on Wednesday and last into Friday.

Upper Colorado River Interagency crews will oversee the fire on the northwest flank of Basalt Mountain, roughly 5 miles north of El Jebel on forest adjacent to Forest Service Road 524, also known as Basalt Mountain Road. The road and the burn area will be closed during the operation for the safety of the public and firefighters.

About 162 acres of mountain shrub and aspen vegetation will be targeted in the burn. About 25 firefighters and three engines will be used to control the spread of fire and smoke.

"Smoke may be visible around the Roaring Fork Valley during burn operations," the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District said in a statement. "The public is reminded, do not call 911 or emergency services."

The prescribed burn is intended to promote growth of vegetation that will provide an improved food source for wildlife and create habitat conditions that will encourage wintering deer and elk to stay in the area rather than move to lower elevation on private lands, where they can be a nuisance.

A secondary benefit of the project is reducing fuels in forestlands adjacent to homes in Missouri Heights.

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"This project is part of a large-scale effort being conducted over a 10-year period in partnership between the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and other native wildlife across some 45,000 acres on White River National Forest," said Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer.

Basalt Fire Department will provide assistance on the project. Colorado Parks and Wildlife helped with planning, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pledged about $16,000 to help pay for federal fire fighting crews.

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