With ideal conditions expected this weekend, crews from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit plan to ignite two prescribed fires on the Roan Plateau near Rifle.
On Saturday, crews are planning to burn up to 846 acres of aspen understory on the Roan Plateau near First and Second Anvil creeks in Garfield County.
The burn on Bureau of Land Management-administered land should improve big-game habitat and promote new aspen growth.
The burn areas are near the rim of the plateau, and smoke will be visible from Rifle and the Interstate 70 corridor between Parachute and Silt.
On Sunday, crews are planning to burn up to 500 acres in the U.S. Forest Service Rifle Ranger District 18 miles south of New Castle in eastern Mesa County.
The burn area is in the West Divide Creek drainage near Mosquito Lake. The burn will target mountain shrub to improve big- game habitat and reduce fuel for large wildfires. Smoke will be visible from Silt and New Castle and potentially the Roaring Fork Valley.
“We will only ignite these prescribed fires if conditions are conducive for safe, effective burns, as well as for good smoke dispersal away from nearby communities,” said Lathan Johnson, fuels specialist for the fire unit.
Fire managers carefully monitor weather and vegetation moisture for optimal conditions that meet the requirements of detailed burn plans.
With the highly variable Colorado autumn weather, windows with ideal condition are rare or may not even occur in a given year.
“These burns will bring benefits to wildlife habitat and land health that will last for years,” Johnson said. “We know there may be local impact to some hunters and other people recreating near these areas this weekend, but we need to take advantage of the windows when we get them.”
Fire managers have developed a detailed prescribed fire plan and obtained smoke permits from the State of Colorado for each planned burn. Please contact Lathan Johnson at 970-640-9165 for additional information.