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Prescribed fire scheduled for wildlife habitat improvement project

News from White River National Forest

Sept. 23, 2014 – Pending favorable weather conditions, the White River National Forest and partners will conduct a prescribed burn this fall on the north flank of Basalt Mountain, roughly 5 miles north of Basalt on National Forest System lands adjacent to Forest Service Road 524, also known as the Basalt Mountain road.  The prescribed burn is expected to occur around the end of September or early October, weather permitting. 

Up to 162 acres of mountain shrub and aspen vegetation at Unit A will be ignited this fall to benefit wildlife habitat. More burning in the spring of 2015 will be done in Unit C. “Prescribed fire is effective for stimulating sprouting of Gambel’s oak and other shrubs, as well as sprouting of aspen, which improves winter browse for big game and native wildlife, and it helps regenerate aspen stands that have become decadent and in decline in the project area”, said Phil Nyland, Forest Service District Wildlife Biologist.

The intent of the project is to promote nutrient recycling of fire-adapted vegetation communities, to provide an improved food source for wildlife, and to create habitat conditions that will encourage wintering deer and elk to stay in the area rather than move on to lower elevation private land where they may become a nuisance.  A secondary benefit of the project will be reduction of fuel loads in the mountain shrub and aspen vegetation adjacent to homes in the Missouri Heights area.

“This project is part of a large-scale effort being conducted over a 10-year period in partnership between the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and other native wildlife across some 45,000 acres on White River National Forest”, said Karen Schroyer, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has pledged financial support to assist the cost of federal fire crews and Basalt Fire Department plans to participate with an engine crew.

Information regarding this project and the objectives of the work is available at the Forest Service office at 620 Main St., Carbondale, or by calling 970-963-2266. 

A map of the prescribed fire areas.

 Basalt RX burn