On Wednesday, April 22, Pagosa Ranger District of the San Juan Public Lands conducted a prescribed burn on 280 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands on Vigil and Abeyta Mesas, 25 miles south of Pagosa Springs.
“We have planned and prepared for several years to burn the canyon between the mesas,” said Scott Wagner, burn boss. “On Wednesday, everything came together to allow us to do so.” The canyon was bounded by snow and areas previously treated with prescribed fire.
The District had hoped to conduct a burn in the Piedra Area last week, but burning was postponed due to wind conditions. If conditions allow, the prescribed burn of up to 1,000 acres per day was set to begin Wednesday, April 29. The burn unit is located west of the Piedra River, south of the First Fork of the Piedra River, and north of Indian Creek. Burning will occur on south-facing slopes between remaining snow fields. The location is roughly 18 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.
Other locations that will be burned in May, conditions allowing, include Devil Creek off of East Monument Park Road and Newt Jack in the Turkey Springs area.
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.