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Prescribed burns planned for West Rim, Rabbit Mountain

600 acres to receive fire treatment
Firefighters contained the Draw Fire, 8 miles northeast of Dolores, using controlled burns to keep flames within predetermined boundaries.

The Bureau of Land Management Southwest Colorado Fire and Aviation Management Unit plans to conduct several prescribed burns within the Tres Rios Field Office’s territory as early as this week.

The West Rim Pine burn will treat 300 acres or more of ponderosa pine and Gambel oak. It is located about 7 miles east of Dove Creek. No road closures are expected during the project. However, camping in proximity to the units is discouraged because of increased traffic and likelihood of smoke in the area, particularly at night. Several units of the West Rim Pines Project were successfully treated last fall and are showing positive results, the BLM said.

The burn plan contains specific criteria regarding weather conditions and air quality that must be met to help ensure control of the burn, as well as minimize the potential smoke impacts to local communities,” said Ian Barrett, BLM fire management specialist.

The Rabbit Mountain project, located 5 miles northwest of Bayfield, is designed to maintain previous mechanical fuels treatments, restore and maintain ecosystem health, and decrease surface fuel loading to reduce wildfire risk. The prescribed burn will treat about 287 acres of ponderosa pine, piñon-juniper woodlands and mountain shrub when completed.

“In order to minimize potential smoke impacts to local communities, we must meet specific criteria for weather conditions,” said Brad Pietruszka, BLM fuels program manager. “This project site is located about 1 mile from a subdivision, which makes it crucial to ensure an ideal outcome for this burn.”

The prescribed burns are part of a larger project to reintroduce fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem to restore healthy forests and species diversity. Benefits include reduced hazardous fuels to protect wildland urban interface communities, improve range conditions and big game and sage-grouse habitat.

The burns may take multiple days to complete once initiated, and will be monitored throughout the process to ensure public safety.

Smoke may be visible in the burn area for several days after each burn is completed as vegetation in the interior continues to smolder. However, most of the smoke will lift and dissipate during the warmest parts of the day.

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