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Prescribed burning planned for spring

Fire managers at Pagosa Ranger District are planning to conduct several prescribed burns on National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Lands during the spring.

The goals of this treatment are to reintroduce the role of fire to fire-dependent ecosystems, to reduce ground fuels, prune lower branches of trees, provide for nutrient cycling, encourage biological diversity and promote the growth of browse for wildlife and livestock.

Locations identified for burning include:

Bureau of Land Management lands:

• ?Mesa Pedregosa, 23 miles south of Pagosa Springs.

National Forest lands:

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

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

• In the Sheep and Davis Creek areas within the Piedra Area east of Pagosa Springs and west of First Fork Road and the Piedra River.

• Horsefly area, 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs, north of U.S. 160 and east of the First Fork Road.

Each burn has a plan that describes conditions which must be met before ignition and during burning, including temperatures; moisture level of the grasses, needles and trees; wind speed; and smoke dispersal. Spring and fall are generally the best times of year to burn when temperatures are more moderate and the fuels have enough moisture to keep the fire at a low intensity. ?

Prescribed burning within Pagosa Ranger District and Bureau of Land Management lands is partially funded by the San Juan Basin Habitat Partnership Program (HPP) sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). The Habitat Partnership Program uses funding generated from local hunting license sales for a variety of wildlife partnership projects on private and public lands.

With the exception of the burn within the Piedra Area, these prescribed burns will be ignited and monitored by firefighters on the ground.

The burn units in the Piedra Area are in a remote location on the west side of the Piedra River in the Sheep and Davis Creek areas. 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 remote areas, 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. There is a possibility of temporary restrictions for boaters on the Piedra River during the burn period.

There is limited access to the Piedra Area in spring, due to snow and road closures. Later in the spring, there may be some trail closures within the burn for public safety. ?

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.