Prescribed burns in areas including Pitkin County to cover 10,000 acres this spring |

Prescribed burns in areas including Pitkin County to cover 10,000 acres this spring

A firefighter uses drip torch to ignite fuels during black lining efforts on the Cattle Creek prescribed burn in the fall of 2017.
Courtesy photo

Fire officials in the Upper Colorado River area hope to burn more than 10,000 acres this spring in prescribed fires, which will help habitat for big game and other wildlife, federal lands officials announced Friday.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit (UCR) announced its plans for eight prescribed burns on White River National Forrest and BLM land in Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle and Rio Blanco counties. The dates are weather-dependent, but some locations could start soon, BLM public affairs spokesman David Boyd said Friday.

“It’s hard to find the right window in the spring because we have to have the right conditions,” Boyd said. “It could be as early as next week, but it really varies by location.”

There are three planned in Garfield County this spring: 1,500 acres in French Creek, 6 miles west of Doterso, north of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon; 727 acres in June Creek,14 miles south of Silt; and 2,700 acres in the West Divide Creek area, also about 14 miles south of Silt.

There are two planned burns in Pitkin County: 2,000 acres in the Braderich Creek burn (14 miles south/southwest of Carbondale, 2.5 miles west of Highway 133 and Redstone), and 500 acres for the Avalanche Creek burn (nine miles south of Carbondale, east of Highway 133).

In Eagle County near the Roaring Fork Valley, the Cattle Creek burn is set for 2,000 acres (seven miles north of Basalt, northeast of Highway 82).

Elsewhere in Eagle County, burns are planned for 240 acres in Sheep Gulch, 4 miles north of Gypsum; and in Rio Blanco County, a burn is planned for 500 acres in Miller Creek, 12 miles east of Meeker.

All burns are monitored by ground crews and fire engines. More information will be released in the days ahead of each burn, Boyd said.

Fire officials said the prescribed burns are “targeted to improve large game winter and transition range forage.”

“The White River National Forest and the BLM have partnered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on these projects to improve forage regeneration for wildlife,” according to the news release. “Nutrient-rich new growth can often be seen sprouting as soon as 10 days after a prescribed fire.

“A secondary benefit of these projects will be the reduction of fuel loads in the mountain shrub and oak brush vegetation in areas that are overgrown,” the release stated.

During the burns, the public is reminded to not call 911 or emergency services, even though smoke may be visible. Most of the smoke should dissipate during the day, although some nighttime smoke may remain in valley bottoms as temperatures drop, the release also noted.

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