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Prescribed burn planned for Lone Mesa

Fire will thin forest, improve wildlife habitat
Journal File<br><br>A prescribed burn on Lone Mesa State Park north of Dolores is planned for this week.

In an effort to improve deer and elk habitat, and to reduce the buildup of fuels on the ground, Colorado Parks and Wildlife plans to conduct a controlled burn on Lone Mesa State Park in the Groundhog Reservoir area the week of Oct. 9.

The operation could be delayed depending on weather conditions.

The project is being conducted in cooperation with the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Dolores County. About 300 acres will be treated. Smoke may be visible from Dolores, Cortez, along U.S. Highway 491, and for several days after the burn operation. Fire crews will continue to monitor the burn until it is completely extinguished.

The prescribed fire will reduce fuels including dead wood, overcrowded unhealthy trees and thick layers of pine needles. Those fuels can contribute to catastrophic wildfires.

The Colorado State Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have been implementing a program of fuels treatment and thinning throughout the 12,000-acre Lone Mesa State Park for several years. The ponderosa pine areas were mechanically thinned from 2014 through 2017. Some trees were cut for lumber and others for firewood. These areas were also treated in 2016 and 2016 when large piles of debris were burned.

Scot Elder, manager of Lone Mesa State Park, explained that a management plan for the burn has been written that addresses safety issues.

Land managers looked carefully at the area and its location relative to homes, roads, and other smoke-sensitive sites,” he said. “The burn plan is written to minimize the negative impacts of smoke, especially to individuals who may be smoke-sensitive.”

If you see smoke from the Lone Mesa prescribed burn, please do not call law enforcement or fire departments.

For more information, contact the Lone Mesa State Park Office at 970-882-2213.

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