Routt National Forest plans prescribed burn on Elk River corridor | SteamboatToday.com

Routt National Forest plans prescribed burn on Elk River corridor







— After a long summer of battling wildfire from the Wyoming border south to Lynx Pass, the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest is tentatively planning this month to fight fire with fire in a heavily visited area of the forest along the upper Elk River.

Forest spokesman Aaron Voos wrote in a news release Oct. 7, that if weather and fuel moisture allow, crews will employ drip torches intended to burn about 300 acres of forest southwest of Seedhouse campground in North Routt County. The burn represents an ongoing effort to reduce hazardous fuels and alter future fire behavior along a stretch of the Elk River corridor that is adjacent to private land at Hinman Park, according to Voos.

"Successfully reducing fuels now will help make future potential wildland fire management efforts in this area more safe and effective," Voos wrote.

Well to the north of Steamboat Springs, fire crews battled the sprawling Beaver Creek Fire for much of the summer (it started June 19 and had burned 38,380 acres as of Sept. 29), with the added complication of the Broadway Fire just to the west.

Closer to the communities of Stagecoach, Oak Creek and Steamboat, fire crews began monitoring the flames of the Silver Creek Fire, which consumed beetle-killed pine in the Sarvis Creek Wilderness as it burned more than 470 acres. But it was the Lost Solar Fire burning on the southern boundary of the Flat Tops, in Garfield County, that did the most to add a haze to skies around Steamboat.

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If crews are able to proceed with this month's prescribed burn, it will represent the third phase of reducing fuels in the same area — 130 acres were burned in the area of Reed Creek in 2009 and another 30 in 2014.

This month's burn is in an area with a mix of mountain shrubs, grasses and aspen. Smoke from the burn may be visible during the days, but because the fuels are light, forest officials expect the smoke to subside in the evenings.

Voos wrote that in addition to reducing hazardous fuels, the burn will have the added benefit of improving elk and moose habitat.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1