By Rebecca Robbins
The Pagosa Ranger District is planning to burn approximately 400 acres this autumn in the East Monument Road (Forest Service Road 630) area of the San Juan National Forest to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve forest health.
The planned burn area is located approximately 7 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs. Operations were planned to begin this week; however, recent rains have made conditions too wet to burn. Prescribed fires will only be ignited when all weather, fuels and smoke requirements are met. Depending on future weather and fuels conditions, ignitions will take place over one to two days.
Burning operations will be conducted by district personnel and other fire resources from the Forest Service and partner agencies. This burn unit is part of the larger Brockover-Devil Creek prescribed burn project aimed at reducing hazardous ground fuels, reducing the risk of unplanned catastrophic wildfire impacting adjacent communities, restoring ponderosa pine ecosystems and improving wildlife habitat.
Daytime smoke is expected to travel to the northeast. Nighttime smoke is expected to travel down canyon into the Devil Creek drainage. Smoke will be heavier in the mornings following burning operations, lifting and clearing out by mid-day. Smoke will be visible from Pagosa Springs, County Road 600, and the U.S. 160 corridor. Learn how smoke from prescribed fire may affect your health by visiting the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.
The forests in southwest Colorado are part of a fire-adapted ecosystem, which historically experienced frequent, low-intensity fires on a large scale. Prescribed fire replicates that fire regime under controlled conditions.
Current information will be posted on Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6288/ on the day prescribed fire ignitions are planned to take place.
For more information, please contact the Pagosa Ranger District 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, visit the forest website, or follow us on social media.