By Esther Godson
The San Juan National Forest’s Pagosa Ranger District is planning to conduct a prescribed fire starting in late April. Burning operations will take place over several days when weather and fuel conditions are favorable and may continue into the fall season based on conditions.
Both hand and aerial ignition methods may be utilized, following the weather, fuel and smoke parameters stated in the prescribed fire plan. Burning operations will be conducted by Forest Service personnel with assistance from cooperating agencies.
Project areas identified for prescribed fire implementation are:
• Between Newt Jack Road (Forest Road 923) and Catamount Trail (Forest Trail 313).
• Between Turkey Springs Road (Forest Road 629), south of Brockover Road (Forest Road 919), and Gopher Trail (Forest Trail 303).
Reintroduction of prescribed fire is necessary to improve and restore vegetative conditions. This effort will reduce hazardous ground fuels, lessen the risk of unplanned large-scale wildfire, help restore ponderosa pine ecosystems and improve wildlife habitat. Prescribed fire also reduces the ladder fuels that can carry fire into the canopy, killing mature trees.
During burning operations, smoke may be visible from Pagosa Springs, U.S. 160 and the Chimney Rock area. Smoke may settle into low-lying valleys, Devil Creek and Martinez Canyon overnight. Smoke monitoring will be conducted and ignitions scheduled to minimize smoke impacts to communities. Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. More information can be found online: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.
Forest visitors should use caution on the trails following burn operations. Maps of the prescribed fire area and additional prescribed fire program news can be found on InciWeb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6288/. For more information, please contact Assistant Fire Management Officer Fred Ellis at (970) 264-2268.
All offices on the San Juan National Forest are currently conducting business and providing services virtually. For information on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874.