Prescribed burns imminent north, south of Carbondale |

Prescribed burns imminent north, south of Carbondale

Staff report
Fire crews from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit light strips of flames in Avalanche Creek as part of an April 2016 prescribed burn.
Post Independent file

Firefighters with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit (UCR) expect to conduct prescribed burn operations for the Cattle Creek and Braderich Creek areas in the next few days, weather permitting.

The prescribed burns will each target up to 2,000 acres of vegetation in their respective locations.

“Prescribed burns are part of the 10-year Aspen-Sopris wildlife habitat improvement project that uses prescribed fire and mechanical treatments in key forest, shrubland and grassland vegetation types across the district to improve habitat and benefit wildlife,” according to a White River National Forest news release.

“The low intensity flame of the prescribed fire will improve habitat conditions by consuming fuels, clearing patches of dense vegetation as well as dead grasses and leaf litter, and promoting existing vegetation to sprout and regenerate during the upcoming growing season.”

Another benefit of prescribed fire, according to the release, is to reduce hazardous fuels in areas adjacent to communities should a natural wildfire erupt.

In the event of a wildfire incident, prescribed burn areas reduce the potential for fire to move quickly across a landscape and threaten residential communities by decreasing the density of available fuels and creating fuel breaks for firefighters, the release stated.

“The goal of prescribed fire is to remove hazardous fuels and promote the regeneration of nutrient-rich forage for wildlife,” said District Ranger Karen Schroyer. “Firefighters and engines will be on-scene at each burn and will closely monitor conditions during and after ignitions.”

The Cattle Creek and Braderich Creek prescribed fires will be implemented in accordance with written burn plans, taking into account specific weather and smoke dispersion conditions before proceeding.

Agencies including Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and fire districts are also consulted months in advance.

“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,” the release continued. “Springtime conditions, including wet aspects and snowpack, are favorable control features that will be utilized on these prescribed burns.”

Operations will be implemented with aerial ignitions by helicopter and on the ground by hand. Fuels ignitions may take place over one to three days on each project, and may not occur consecutively.

The Cattle Creek burn area is located nine miles north of El Jebel, near Cottonwood Pass. This is the second year prescribed fire operations have been conducted in the Cattle Creek area. Smoke is expected to be visible from Carbondale, El Jebel, Basalt, Gypsum and Eagle.

The Braderich Creek burn area is located 14 miles south of Carbondale, 2.5 miles west of Highway 133 and Redstone. Smoke will likely be visible throughout the Crystal River Valley.

Anyone observing smoke in these areas is asked to not call 911. For more information or to ask questions, call the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District Office at 970-963-2266.

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