Prescribed Burns Begin in Mesa County
KREX News Room
PALISADE, Colo. - Folks who saw smoke coming out from the top of the Grand Mesa on Friday may be happy to hear that it was not a wildfire, but a prescribed burn put on by Land Management officials.
Officials say the area around the Palisade water shed hasn't seen a wildfire in decades, meaning that many plant fuels have been building up, creating the potential for devastating effects if they were to catch on fire.
"What we don't want to have is a really large fire coming through when conditions are at the worst in the summertime, when you have these whole drainages completely blown out ... no vegetation left then you can start getting run off and rain and siltation in the water shed," said David Boyd with the Bureau of Land Management.
Before crews can even get started, there's a laundry list of factors that they need to keep in mind.
"How we're going to ignite the fuels, what the fuels are like, what we're going to do with smoke," said Lathan Johnson, a fire management specialist.
When the plan is set and the weather conditions are perfect, fire fighters armed with drip torches make their way through the brush.
"There's about 10 fire fighters igniting this and they're directed from afar. They basically went back and forth walking through the whole unit, we probably burned somewhere in the neighborhood of 250-300 acres today," said Johnson.
By thinning out the amount of vegetation in the area, it makes it less susceptible to major wildfires.
"What we did today is going to make this area fire proof for years to come, where if there was a wildfire, it wouldn't be as bad," said Johnson.
Officials say prescription burns also serve a different purpose.
"That'll clear out the old brush and you'll get this nice new growth coming in. Plants are a lot more healthy and much more nutritious for wildlife," said Boyd.
Although the rest of the prescription burn will finish up on Saturday, crews say people will still be able to see smoke above the Mesa over the next few days.