Ranger district plans prescribed burns this week

The Pagosa Ranger District will conduct prescribed burns in two areas this week, if conditions are acceptable.

Wednesday, the intent was to burn about 250 acres on Bureau of Land Management lands on Vigil and Abeyta mesas, 25 miles south of Pagosa Springs. Fire was to be applied by firefighters on the ground to steep, south-facing slopes with adjacent snowfields. Smoke will be visible in the Chromo area and as one looks south from Pagosa Springs. Smoke will settle at night in the canyons in the Edith area.

Today, April 23, the plan is to conduct an aerial burn of 500 to 1,000 acres in a remote location of the San Juan National Forest within the Piedra Area. The burn unit is located west of the Piedra River, south of the First Fork of the Piedra River, and north of Indian Creek. The burning will occur on south facing slopes between remaining snow fields. The location is roughly eighteen miles northwest of Pagosa Springs.

The Piedra Area was designated by congress as an area to be managed to retain its wilderness conditions. Motorized and mechanized forms of transportation are not permitted within the area. Located far from roads and on steep terrain, the units will be ignited by fire managers using plastic sphere devices (PSD) dropped from a helicopter. This method of ignition reduces exposure of firefighters to injuries that occur when working in steep slopes and readily ignites fine fuels such as pine needles, leaf litter, and dead grasses. Under the conditions fire managers seek, the method provides a mosaic burn.

Smoke will be visible, especially late in the day, north of Chimney Rock. At night, smoke will settle along the Piedra River drainage to the south of the burn area. District personnel will be monitoring smoke conditions during the burns.

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., Pagosa Springs or call 264-2268.