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Delta, Colorado, April 4, 2022 – Fire Management Officials from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests have announced plans to conduct prescribed burns this spring. The vegetation treatments will occur April through June depending upon weather and appropriate ground and vegetation conditions.
The objectives are to reduce vegetation (fuels) to help reduce the risk of larger wildfires, for wildlife habitat improvement and ecosystem health. Prescribed fire in these areas will burn with less intensity under moderated conditions which will improve the resiliency of the landscape against wildfire. Prescribed burning is a versatile forest management tool that is designed to mimic historic fire behavior ranges, reduce hazardous fuels buildup, and improve habitat for a variety of wildlife. Minimal and managed smoke from prescribed fires now minimizes the potential for longer duration, unpredictable and hazardous volumes wildfire smoke in the future.
In general, burn areas will vary in size consisting of anywhere from a couple acres to a few hundred acres at a time. Cumulative acres planned to be burned this spring will total approximately 10,200 across the 13 operations.
Dispersed recreation in the burn areas may be impacted. Staff will be making personal contact with recreationists regarding any temporary closures. Signs will be placed on adjacent roads notifying the public of the burns as necessary. Fire staff from the GMUG will continue to monitor the burned areas following the operations.
Safety of firefighters and the public are the most important factors considered when planning a prescribed burn. Fire Management Officers and Fuels Specialists spend countless hours developing detailed prescribed fire plans that detail specific weather, fuel conditions and staffing and safety requirements. Ignitions will occur using ground and aerial techniques. Ignitions only occur if conditions are conductive to a safe, effective operation and within appropriate smoke dispersal parameters set by the State of Colorado.
The prescribed burns will be accomplished using joint-agency fire resources. Air quality will be closely monitored to mitigate smoke related impacts to communities.
The following burns are planned:
West Zone – Norwood/Ouray Ranger Districts
East Zone – Gunnison Ranger District
North Zone – Grand Valley/Paonia Ranger District
“Prescribed fire remains an important way to minimize the risk of large, severe wildfires to a variety of values and resources by reducing fuel loadings in strategic locations. It is also an important ecological disturbance and nutrient provider, which is vital to wildlife habitat improvement and overall ecosystem function. The primary objectives for these prescribed fires remain focused on firefighter and public safety.” said Stewart Robertson, Fuels Management Officer.
For information on prescribed burns, pile burns, wildfires and fire restrictions on National Forest System lands and other areas, visit the GMUG Fire Info page or call the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests Fire Information line at (970) 874-6602.
For information and updates on current fire restrictions, conditions, and recreation opportunities on the GMUG visit the forest website. Connect with us on social media (Twitter and Facebook).
For more information on how prescribed burning and pile burning smoke may affect your health, please visit: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.