Pagosa Ranger District Plans Prescribed Burn Near Piedra River

By Jodi Mallozzi

Fire managers on the Pagosa Ranger District are planning a 260-acre prescribed burn in the area of the Piedra river drainage, located north of Highway 160 near First Fork Road (FS road 622), approximately 23 miles west of Pagosa Springs.

Operations are anticipated to occur on or around April 20 as long as weather conditions remain favorable. The four units planned to be treated are a part of a larger project known as the Horsefly. All prescribed fire activity is dependent on the availability of personnel, equipment, weather forecasts, and fuel moisture levels.

Prescribed fire is an essential tool for restoring forest health in fire adapted ecosystems. Our forest historically relied on frequent low-severity fire as a necessary process resulting in the reduction of accumulated forest fuel, while recycling valuable nutrients into the soil. The Horsefly prescribed burn is being conducted to mimic this natural cycle while reducing the risk of severe wildfire, improving forest health, and improving big-game habitat.

Residents and travelers to the area can expect to see and smell smoke during the 2-3 days of treatment. Smoke is expected to disperse east toward Pagosa Springs during daytime operations. Smoke may be visible from Bayfield, Pagosa Springs, and along the Highway 160 corridor.

Overnight smoke is expected to settle along Highway 160 near the Piedra River and may reduce visibility; drivers are urged to take extra precautions and slow down while traveling through areas impacted by smoke.

The First Fork Road (FS 622) will remain seasonally closed and no additional trail closures are expected.

For additional information regarding the Horsefly prescribed burn, please contact Jay Godson at (970) 385-1292.

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