Special to The SUN
Fire officials on the Pagosa Ranger District in San Juan National Forest will conduct prescribed fire operations in Chimney Rock National Monument as early as April 22.
Less than 100 acres across three burn units are planned. Actual ignition days will depend on weather and fuel conditions, and is expected to continue over multiple days.
This effort is part of a larger hazardous fuels-reduction project inside the monument that involved both mechanical treatment and prescribed fire. Some of the over-story vegetation was thinned, piled and burned in 2009-2010, followed by an understory burn operation from 2011-2014. Vegetation consists of ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, grass and piñon/juniper.
Prescribed fire operations will be conducted by Forest Service personnel, assisted by fire resources from cooperating agencies. The purpose is to reduce hazardous ground fuels, reduce the risk of unplanned large-scale wildfires, restore ponderosa pine ecosystems and improve wildlife habitat.
Smoke will be visible from U.S. 160 and Colo. 151. Prescribed fires will only be ignited when all weather, fuels and smoke requirements are met. For additional information, please contact Fred Ellis, assistant fire management officer (fuels), Pagosa Ranger District, at 264-1541.
Current information and maps of prescribed fire units in the San Juan National Forest can be found on Inciweb: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6288/.
Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information, please go to: www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.