Prescribed burns planned for Pagosa Ranger District

By Gretchen Fitzgerald
Special to The SUN
The Pagosa Ranger District is planning to conduct several prescribed burns on national forest near Pagosa Springs. The burn units are located in the Turkey Springs/Brockover Mesa, Fawn Gulch and Mill Creek areas.
The burn units northwest of town are within the Brockover I and II, Turkey Springs Piles and Devil Creek II burn plans and are located adjacent to the Turkey Springs (FSR Road 629), East Monument (FSR 630), Brockover (FSR 919) and Newt Jack roads (FSR 923).
The Fawn Gulch burn units are adjacent to Archuleta County Road 113/FSR 666. Mill Creek burn units are adjacent to Mill Creek Road (Archuleta County Road 302), Nipple Mountain Road (FSR 665) and Echo Canyon Road (FSR 029). Units vary in size from 100 to 500 acres.
Ignition operations may take place over several days beginning in mid-September and continuing through early November. Actual dates of operations will be dependent on weather and fuels conditions.
The forest vegetation consists of ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, grass and a small area of logging slash. All of the units have received previous fuels-reduction treatments including mowing of shrubs and small trees, thinning and piling and timber harvest.
The Turkey Springs/Brockover Mesa project expands upon prescribed burns which took place in August/September 2016. It is part of an overall fuels-reduction project involving both mechanical treatment and prescribed fire covering approximately 5,000 acres. The Fawn Gulch units were mowed in 2017.
Burning operations will be conducted by district personnel and other fire resources from the U.S. Forest Service and cooperating agencies. The purpose is to reduce hazardous ground fuels, reduce the risk of unplanned catastrophic wildfire, restore ponderosa pine ecosystems and improve wildlife habitat.
Ponderosa pine forests are 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 and smoke requirements are met.
Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information, please go to: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.
For additional information, please contact Fred Ellis, assistant fire management officer (fuels), Pagosa Ranger District, at 264-1541.

This story was posted on September 16, 2018.