Prescribed Burns were conducted on the Abajo Mountains, in the Monticello Ranger District, at the Blue Mountain Ranch and Brushy Basin Projects last year. These prescribed burns were pile burns that removed hazardous fuels from around urban interface areas and main road corridors.
With the arrival of favorable weather conditions, fire managers on the Manti-La Sal National Forest will begin igniting prescribed burns on the Moab and Monticello Ranger Districts in the coming weeks. Burns are planned for the Shingle Mill and North Elk Ridge project areas.
The USDA Forest Service prioritizes preparations for hazardous fuels reduction treatments to be ready to execute when weather conditions are right. Manti-La Sal fire officials plan to take advantage of favorable burning conditions throughout April and into early June 2022, depending on weather and resource availability.
For public and firefighter safety, signs will be posted along roadways where burning is taking place, as well as road guards when necessary. Burning is planned for daytime hours to help limit visibility impacts from smoke to residents. Burning may occur during some weekend periods as well. The public can expect to see smoke west of Monticello in the Lloyd’s Lake area. Smoke may settle into drainages and cross Highway 191, south of Monticello. Drivers are cautioned to slow down during burn periods.
Prescribed fires have short-term impacts to air quality but are always planned in coordination with state air quality regulations. This planning helps avoid smoke levels that would be considered harmful to smoke sensitive populations.
The Shingle Mill Vegetation Management Project, located in San Juan County, aims to improve vegetation and watershed conditions related to soils and ground cover, improve forage production for big game (mule deer and elk), and to reduce the continuity of vegetative fuels associated with fire hazard in this high-use area that is part of the Monticello City municipal watershed and WUI (Wildland-Urban Interface) area. These burns are projected to be low-intensity surface fires on approximately 4,200 acres, where fine and small diameter fuels will be consumed.
The North Elk Ridge Project will be low-intensity and low-severity surface fire on approximately 7,585 acres, where fine and small diameter fuels will be consumed. Underburns like those being used on this project help to reduce litter, needle layers and ladder fuels. Prescribed fire treatments may take place over a timespan of several years, with several treatments planned for burning window opportunities.
Prescribed burning is a proactive tool used to reduce hazardous fuels, which decreases the threat of high-intensity, high-severity wildfires. It also reduces the risk of insect and disease outbreak, recycles nutrients that increase soil productivity, improves wildlife habitat and supports aspen restoration.
Manti-La Sal officials coordinate all burning activities with internal agency partners, the Moab Fire Dispatch Center and external agency partners to time the project to coincide with favorable weather conditions and smoke dispersion. Local community residents and visitors to the forest can learn more about air quality and smoke by visiting www.airnow.gov.
For more information on the planned prescribed burns, please contact the Monticello Ranger District Office at (435) 587-2041.