The Columbine Ranger District is planning to burn an additional 1,300 acres in the Beaver Meadows and First Notch areas of the San Juan National Forest to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve forest health. Operations are scheduled to begin Sunday, May 28, depending on weather conditions and availability of fire personnel and other resources. Fire managers expect little impact to the public over the Memorial Day Weekend due to the prescribed fire’s remote location away from communities, recreation areas and major roadways.
The prescribed fire project area is located 10 miles northeast of Bayfield, north of Beaver Meadows Road No. 135, which will remain open to the public. Jungle Canyon Road No. 160, Ute Park Road No. 133, and Rocky Canyon OHV Trail No. 717 will not be accessible during prescribed fire operations.
Ignitions will take place over several consecutive days and operations may take multiple weeks to complete. District San Juan National Forest personnel and partner agencies will conduct using both ground and aerial ignition. Prescribed fires will only be ignited when all weather, fuels and smoke requirements are met.
Other prescribed fire units in the Vallecito-Piedra project were successfully implemented May 11 and 12 for a total of 1,112 acres. This burn project is aimed at reducing hazardous ground fuels, reducing the risk of unplanned catastrophic wildfire, restoring ponderosa pine ecosystems and improving wildlife habitat. 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 and increases the area on our landscape that has been burned at low and moderate conditions.
Daytime smoke is expected to travel to the north/northeast and to 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, then lifting and clearing out by mid-day. Smoke will be visible from Bayfield, Pagosa Springs, and the U.S. 160 corridor between those two towns. Learn how smoke from prescribed fire may affect your health by visiting the Colorado Department of Public Health website.
For more information on the Vallecito-Piedra Prescribed Fire Project, please contact the Columbine Ranger District at (970) 884-2512 or visit Inciweb. For information on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874, visit the forest website.