Prescribed burning planned by USFS

Fire managers on the Pagosa Ranger District plan to conduct several prescribed burns this fall on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands surrounding Pagosa Springs.

According to Fuels Forester Scott Wagner, “Ponderosa pine and lower mixed conifer forests are adapted to and benefit greatly from periodic, low intensity fires. Prescribed burns conducted by fire managers under certain conditions maintain the role of fire in these fire-dependent ecosystems.”

Burning reduces fuels on the ground and prunes lower branches of trees, thereby reducing the chance of initiating a crown fire if a wildfire occurs. Burning also provides for nutrient cycling, increases grass cover and induces re-sprouting of shrubs which improves browse and feed for wildlife and livestock. In general, burning promotes biological diversity and reduces the risk of severe wildfires.

The following areas are planned for burning this fall:

Bureau of Land Management lands.

• Vigil and Abeyta Mesas, 25 miles south of Pagosa Springs.

Forest Service lands.

• Burns Canyon area, nine miles southwest of Pagosa Springs.

• Lower Middle Mountain area about 12 miles west of Pagosa Springs.

• The headwaters of Devil Creek in the Turkey Springs area, seven miles northwest of downtown of Pagosa Springs.

All of these burns will be lit by crews on the ground.

A burn plan has been prepared for each burn area that describes specific weather, fuel moisture conditions and number and types of personnel needed to safely conduct the burn. Burn plans are prepared by qualified burn bosses and reviewed by higher level, experienced fire managers. Burn plans also specify wind and atmospheric conditions that will minimize smoke impacts to surrounding communities.

Residents to the northwest and southwest of Pagosa Springs and in the Chromo area may see the smoke from these burns. Nighttime smoke from Vigil and Abeyta mesas may flow into the Navajo River drainage. Smoke from the other burns may affect Devil Creek or Burns Canyon.

For additional information about the proposed burns or other fuels-reduction efforts, visit the local San Juan Public Lands office, Pagosa Ranger District, at 180 Pagosa St. or call 264-2268.