Prescribed Burn set for Sierra Madres


Fire crews working at the Medicine Bow National Forest hope to conduct a prescribed burn in the northwest portion of the Sierra Madre Range sometime in the next month. The burn units are located on National Forest System lands managed by the Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District, west of Encampment.

The primary burn unit will include 609 acres in the Divide Peak area and is part of the Divide Peak Prescribed Burn Project. Located on the northern end of the Sierra Madre range, this project area encompasses about 1,600 acres and is expected to require multiple years to complete burning.

Suitable weather and fuel moisture conditions will determine the exact date of these burns. Burning will not take place unless daily ventilation category (smoke dispersal) forecasts are “good” to “excellent” and other weather-related conditions are favorable. As is often the case, fire managers will be faced with a small window of time between snowmelt and vegetation green-up in which to implement the spring burn.

The fire is expected to burn in a mosaic pattern, designed to improve vegetation conditions and wildlife habitat, and to reduce fire danger by mitigating fuel loading.

The burn unit is composed of mountain shrubs, grass and some aspen. To reduce adverse fire activity, a key burn plan requirement is that the unit be mostly surrounded by snow or non-burnable breaks in the topography. U.S. Forest Service fire crews will monitor the burn area until all fires are completely out.

Prescribed burns are used by the Forest Service to benefit wildlife and vegetation. A versatile management tool, the burns can reinvigorate rangeland, mimic historically natural fire disturbances, reduce hazardous fuel buildup, and improve habitat for a variety of wildlife.


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