With snow layering the ground it is does not seem В like wild fire season. But with memories and scars of the Seeley fire still fresh, the US Forest Service is already taking measures to prevent another inferno.
On Wednesday March 6, forest service fire fighters gathered at Joes Valley reservoir to begin a prescribed burn in the area bordering the Reeder subdivision on the north and the SportsmanвЂ™s subdivision of the south. They were taking advantage of the wet ground to do a preliminary burn В around the Ponderosa pines and other open areas. This will help immensely when a bigger more intense prescription burn takes place later in the spring by protecting the larger trees. Brandon Jensen, USFS, is overseeing and coordinating the early burn project. He explained that this is also part of the overall plan to help restore the Joes Valley area back to its historic make up. They have been working on this for eight years. The main focus is to provide better wildlife habitat for the elk, deer, sage grouse and wild turkeys. It is also to make the urban interface areas safer from destructive wildfires. The encroachment of pinion and juniper trees into the area has increased the likelihood of crown fires in the ponderosa trees. Efforts include using bobcats to remove stands of pinion and junipers while leaving sage, ponderosa and other trees that are historic to the area. The removal of the encroaching plants and the duff under the pines help reduce the 1 hour, 10 hour and some of the 100 hour fuel loads.