By Chris Mannara
A prescribed burn is set for today, May 16, in the Turkey Springs area, according to representatives from the Pagosa Ranger District.
The burn, which is scheduled to begin in the Brockover area between 10 and 11 a.m. today is set to conclude at 4 p.m. according to Pagosa Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Fred Ellis.
As of an interview on May 15, Ellis explained that the burn would be for about 212 acres, but that is contingent on how wet the area is.
“If we get any moisture between now and then, we might have to postpone it,” he indicated.
A prescribed burn is an agency-ignited burn that is designed to decrease hazardous fuels in an area, Ellis explained.
Not only will hazardous fuels be mitigated with the prescribed burn, but the forest health in that area will also be improved, he noted.
“In this case, it’s what we call a broadcast burn because it covers several acres,” Ellis said.
In the Brockover/Turkey Springs area, a lot of work has been done already to mitigate fires, Ellis explained.
Predominately, winds blow southwest and if a fire were to occur, it would end up blowing right into the Hatcher subdivision, Ellis explained.
That has caused more mechanical and prescribed fires to occur in that area to offer a level of protection to the homes in that area, he added.
Any type of fuel-treatment fire is not going to stop a fire, but it does mitigate fire behavior by removing some of those fuels, thus making it easier to deal with, Ellis noted.
“In a year like last year, where it was so dry, and the fuel conditions were so extreme, it could be quite dangerous to the subdivisions over there, and that’s the reason we’ve concentrated so much effort on working out in there,” Ellis said.
In the Brockover/Turkey Springs area, the forest mostly consists of ponderosa pine trees, Ellis explained.
“Historically, those areas did burn. And through a history of fire exclusion, there’s been a buildup of fuels and that’s why we need to really concentrate on reducing that fuel level out there,” he said.
In that area, there was a total of about 7,000 acres that were looked at being treated with a prescribed burn, Ellis explained.
“Much of it has been treated already, but there’s still about 3,500 acres that are left to be treated,” he said. “In a year like this where we had good moisture over the winter, we’ve got a lot more flexibility in conducting burns.”
Those burns will happen throughout the spring and potentially into some of the summer, depending on the weather, and then will continue in late August, early September.