Expect smoky skies from planned prescribed burns
Fire managers on the Dolores Ranger District plan to conduct up to four prescribed burns on the San Juan National Forest within the next month. The goals are to return fire as a natural process to fire-dependent and fire-adapted ecosystems, reduce ground and ladder fuels while decreasing risk of crown fire in forested stands, improve or maintain wildlife habitat, recycle nutrients and consume slash left over from forest health and fuels-reduction thinning projects.
“Our window is a little up in the air. If we get any rain over the next few days we will be set back a couple of weeks,” said Scott McDermid, fire management officer for the Dolores Ranger District.
Guard Station: Up to 500 acres of National Forest are planned for prescribed burning at the west end of Forest Road 506 in the Doe Canyon area east of Dove Creek. The burn is expected to take about five days. During that time, smoke may be visible from Cortez to Dove Creek.
Ferris East: Plans are to burn 136 acres of National Forest south of Ferris Reservoir accessed by Forest Road 521 east of Dove Creek. The burn is expected to take about two days. During that time, smoke may be visible from Cortez to Dove Creek.
Little Bear: Plans are to burn 30 acres accessed by Forest Road 559 near Joe Moore Reservoir northwest of Mancos. The burn is expected to last about one day. During this time, smoke may be visible from Mancos to Cortez.
South Carver: Up to 300 acres of National Forest are planned for prescribed burning on Haycamp Mesa, accessed by Forest Road 557. The burn is expected to last about five days. During this time, smoke may be visible from Mancos and Dolores.
Fire managers plan for prescribed burning to occur when it will have the least smoke impact on communities; however, some smoke may drift into nearby populated areas. Those planning to visit or hunt in these areas during this time period should look for signs posted indicating a prescribed burn is in progress.
“The plan is to take care of fuel accumulation,” said McDermid. “The fine fuels like the grasses have greened up so you will not have the carrier fuels and so there is less chance of the fire spreading. We are targeting logging slash, needle cast, and oak litter. We also want to take out some of the widespread Gambel oak.”
Each of the prescribed burns will require a crew of 15 to 20 firefighters.
For additional information about the proposed burns or other fuels-reduction efforts, call Scott McDermid at 882-6836.