Prescribed fires successfully accomplished across the Forest

Release Date: May 17, 2021

Ahead of the predicted active fire year, these projects reduce the risk of unplanned large wildfires

Durango, Colo., May 17, 2021—The San Juan National Forest accomplished successful implementation of all planned prescribed fires this spring. Fire and Fuels Management Staff from the Columbine, Dolores, and Pagosa Ranger Districts implemented prescribed fires while conditions allowed throughout April, completing operations the first week of May. Forest-wide, a total of 3,131 acres were treated with prescribed fire to meet defined ecological objectives. These lower-intensity fires reduce hazardous ground fuels and lessen the risk of unplanned large wildfires, while improving vegetative conditions for wildlife habitat and forest health in ponderosa pine stands.

The Pagosa Ranger District’s Brockover prescribed fire in the Turkey Springs area treated approximately 400 acres adjacent to the wildland urban interface. The use of prescribed fire in this project reduced the risk and intensity of a large unplanned wildfire near values at risk. The Dolores Ranger District’s prescribed fire in Boggy Draw (518 acres) accomplished similar objectives of reducing the risk of unplanned ignitions near high value areas. The Haycamp Mesa (1,162 acres on the Dolores Ranger District) and the Vallecito-Piedra (1,051 acres on the Columbine Ranger District) both achieved objectives of improving wildlife habitat. The prescribed fires on the Columbine and Dolores Ranger Districts were supported by Colorado Parks & Wildlife and the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative. Implementation of these successful prescribed burns is not possible without the assistance from partners.

Prescribed fire is used to meet resource management objectives, such as maintaining habitat or improving forest health. It is also a key land management tool used to reduce the risk, severity and spread of unplanned wildfire. Compared to wildfires, prescribed fires are shorter in duration and are conducted under weather conditions to minimize smoke impacts. Forest Program Specialists first identify areas for prescribed fire implementation, then follow weather, fuel, and smoke parameters in the prescribed fire plan to meet stated desired conditions.

Wildfire danger is on the rise as southwest Colorado moves into a hot and dry late spring. Stay informed of current and predicted environmental conditions such as weather and drying vegetation. Take extra precaution before venturing out and be careful with anything that could start a fire. Visit the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center fire restrictions page for fire restriction information across the state’s many agencies and jurisdictions.

For information on current fire restrictions, conditions, and recreation opportunities on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874, visit the forest website, or follow us on social media (Twitter and Facebook).