Pending favorable weather conditions, firefighters with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit (UCR) are expecting a window of opportunity within the next few days to a week to conduct prescribed burn operations for the Cattle Creek and/or Braderich Creek prescribed burns. The prescribed burns will each target up to 2,000-acres of vegetation in their respective locations.
The prescribed burns are part of the ten-year Aspen-Sopris wildlife habitat improvement project that uses prescribed fire and mechanical treatments in key forest, shrubland and grassland vegetation types across the district to improve habitat and benefit wildlife. The low intensity flame of the prescribed fire will improve habitat conditions by consuming fuels, clearing patches of dense vegetation as well as dead grasses and leaf litter, and promoting existing vegetation to sprout and regenerate during the upcoming growing season.
An additional benefit of prescribed fire is hazardous fuels reduction in areas adjacent to communities. In the event of a wildfire incident, treatments such as prescribed fires reduce the potential for fire to move quickly across a landscape and threaten residential communities by decreasing the density of available fuels and creating fuel breaks for firefighters.
“The goal of prescribed fire is to remove hazardous fuels and promote the regeneration of nutrient-rich forage for wildlife,” said Karen Schroyer, District Ranger. “Firefighters and engines will be on-scene at each burn and will closely monitor conditions during and after ignitions.”
The Cattle Creek and Braderich Creek prescribed fires will be implemented in accordance with written burn plans that prescribe specific weather and smoke dispersion conditions to exist before crews are able to proceed. Prescribed fire and fuels specialists also coordinate with local partners like Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and county cooperators for months in advance before a prescribed burn takes place. Crews are responsible for igniting vegetation, monitoring control and spread of fire and smoke, ensuring fire is held by control features and monitoring fire behavior. Springtime conditions, including wet aspects and snowpack, are favorable control features that will be utilized on these prescribed burns.
Operations will be implemented with aerial ignitions by helicopter and on the ground by hand. Fuels ignitions may take place over 1-3 days on each project, and may not occur consecutively.
- Cattle Creek Prescribed Burn:
The Cattle Creek prescribed burn is located nine miles north of El Jebel near Cottonwood Pass on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in Eagle County. This is the second year prescribed fire operations have been conducted in the Cattle Creek area. Last fall, crews conducted blacklining operations in the burn area, which created an additional control feature by eliminating a portion of fuel around the edge of the control line. Smoke from the Cattle Creek prescribed fire is expected to be visible from Carbondale, in Garfield County; Basalt in Pitkin County, and the towns of El Jebel, Gypsum, and Eagle in Eagle County.
- Braderich Creek Prescribed Burn:
- The Braderich Creek prescribed burn is located fourteen miles south/southwest of Carbondale, 2.5 miles west of Hwy 133 and Redstone, CO. Pitkin County is an additional partner in this project. Smoke from the Braderich Creek prescribed burn is expected to be visible from Carbondale and the Crystal Valley.
Please do not call 911 to report smoke. Most of the smoke will dissipate during the day, although some nighttime smoke may remain in valley bottoms as temperatures drop. Those who are sensitive to smoke are encouraged to call the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District Office for additional information 970-963-2266.
For more information on how prescribed fire smoke may affect your health, please visit: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health . For the latest updates follow us on twitter @WhiteRiverNews or on Facebook here: U.S. Forest Service – White River National Forest.