By Scott Owen | Forest Service
The Columbine Ranger District is planning to burn approximately 1,500 acres this spring in the Beaver Meadows and the First Notch areas of the San Juan National Forest to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and to improve forest health.
The area is located approximately 10 miles northeast of Bayfield. Operations may begin as soon as early April, depending on weather conditions and availability of fire personnel and other resources.
Ignitions will occur over several consecutive days. Operations may take several weeks to complete and will be conducted by Forest Service personnel and partner agencies. Ground and aerial ignition sources will be used to meet resource objectives.
The burn unit is part of the larger Vallecito-Piedra prescribed burn project aimed at reducing hazardous ground fuels, reducing the risk of unplanned catastrophic wildfire, restoring ponderosa pine ecosystems and improving wildlife habitat. More information on the San Juan National Forest prescribed fire program can be found on Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6288/.
Daytime smoke is expected to travel to the north/northeast and will be lofted high into the sky. Nighttime smoke is expected to travel downslope into the Beaver Creek drainage, the Piedra River and south to the Pine River just north of Ignacio. Smoke will be heavier in the mornings following burning operations. Smoke should lift and clear out by mid-day. Smoke will be visible from Bayfield, Pagosa Springs and the U.S. 160 corridor. Learn how smoke from prescribed fire may affect your health by visiting the Colorado Department of Public Health 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. Prescribed fires will only be ignited when all weather, fuels, smoke and safety requirements are met.
For more information, please contact the Columbine Ranger District at (970) 884-2512.