Basalt Mountain controlled shrub burn planned |

Basalt Mountain controlled shrub burn planned

Staff Report

Weather permitting, the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management will be conducting a prescribed burn within the next few days on the west flank of Basalt Mountain, roughly 3 miles north of El Jebel on national forest system and Bureau of Land Management lands south to Forest Service Road 524, also known as the Basalt Mountain Road.

This is a continuation of a prescribed burning that occurred last fall and spring of 2014.

Up to 1,200 acres of mountain shrub will be ignited by fire crews. Approximately 25 crew members, three engines and a helicopter will be used for the fire. Smoke and flames may be visible around the Roaring Fork Valley during burn operations, especially from the south side of Missouri Heights.

The public is reminded: Do not call 911 or emergency services.

The project is meant to promote nutrient recycling of fire-adapted vegetation, improve food sources for wildlife and create habitat conditions that will encourage wintering deer and elk to stay in the area rather than move to lower-elevation private land, where they may become a nuisance.

“Using fire is a cost-effective way to stimulate growth of winter browse for big game, manage shrub cover for native wildlife, and help regenerate aspen stands that have become decadent and in decline,” said Phil Nyland, Forest Service wildlife biologist. A secondary benefit of the project will be the reduction of fuel loads in the mountain shrub and aspen vegetation adjacent to homes in Missouri Heights.

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

The Basalt Fire Protection District will help with the project. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has helped with planning the project and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has pledged some $26,000 to assist the cost of federal fire crews.

Additional information regarding this project and the objectives of the work is available at the Forest Service office at 620 Main St., Carbondale, or by calling 970-963-2266.

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