BLM plans Radium prescribed burn
March 17, 2016
"Where there's smoke there's fire," the old saying goes and typically in the high country when there's smoke, there's also cause for concern.
Wildfires in both the forests and shrub covered parks that fill the high Rockies keep local firefighters on their toes for most of the year, when snow isn't falling in abundance. One tool to combat the inherent dangers of wild fires is a prescribed burn. Starting next week the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will be reviewing weather conditions in the Dry Gulch Spring area as they prepare for a prescribed burn.
The prescribed burn is scheduled for sometime between March 21 and April 20 depending upon weather conditions and moisture levels in the vegetation in the burn area. The prescribed burn will cover an area roughly 500-acre in size near Dry Gulch Spring, approximately one mile southwest of Radium Hot Springs and about 20 miles southwest of Kremmling not far off the Trough Road.
According to a press release about the prescribed burn issued by the BLM local officials anticipate the burn will take roughly three days to complete if weather conditions are optimal. David Boyd, Public Affairs Specialist for the BLM, discussed what sort of conditions federal officials are looking for to being the burn.
"When we hear the term prescribed burn," said Boyd, "there is a prescription of conditions that have to be met. Basically we are looking at weather conditions; what the winds are doing, also the moisture in the vegetation. We want it dry enough to carry fire but not too dry that the fire would get too intense."
Boyd pointed out that prescribed burns and the weather conditions they require mean such activities are only conducted in the spring and fall when moisture levels are higher.
To begin the process firefighters will burn a fireline around the perimeter of the prescribed burn area. The press release from BLM states this, "would ideally be completed with snow still in the area to help with holding needs. The full area would be burned once the snow is completely gone."
The burn itself will be overseen by firefighters with the Northwest Colorado Interagency Fire Unit, made up of State of Colorado, US Park Service and BLM employees. Boyd said that such actions are often conducted in cooperation with local fire agencies.
The last time the BLM conducted a prescribed burn in Grand County was in April 2014 with the Junction Butte Prescribed Fire just outside Kremmling along the Colorado River.
Along with reducing the risk of wildfire outbreaks the prescribed burn will also improve wildlife habitat. The press release explains by removing pinyon-juniper trees encroaching into sagebrush areas and by stimulating sprouting in mountain shrubs forage for big game in the area will increase. "The burn will diversify the age and species of shrubs in the project area by leaving unburned patches of vegetation and creating a mosaic burn patter," the release states.
The BLM develops an approved burn plan for each of the prescribed fires it initiates with specific weather and environmental conditions required for ignition outlined in the plan. The BLM also obtains smoke permits for the burns.
A release over local radio stations will be done prior to any ignitions. For more information contact the Kremmling Field Office at 970-724-3000.
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