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Prescribed Burns Near Centennial as Soon as Oct. 10

Photo: derekGavey, flickr.com

The Laramie Ranger District is advising people that, if conditions allowed, a controlled and prescribed burn may take place on the west face of Bald Mountain, northeast of the town of Centennial.

The exact date the burning could occur is dependent upon suitable weather and fuel moisture conditions, but could happen as early as Wednesday, October 10th.

According to a press release sent by officials with the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest, the purpose of the prescribed burn is to improve rangeland conditions for big-game winter habitat. The primary fuel in the burn unit is grass that has become decadent and unpalatable to grazing animals.

Hunters in elk area 10 and deer area 75 should be aware of the potential burn and should make their hunting plans accordingly. Signs will be placed on adjacent roads notifying the public of the possible prescribed fire, but no closures are expected.

Officials with the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest say that, ultimately, the burn would benefit deer and elk herds in the area.

According to Aaron Swallow, Rangeland Management Specialist for the Laramie Ranger District, “The habitat value within the burn unit has been reduced through the years by over-mature grass creating thick layers of dead material, reducing the forage potential. The reduced forage quality in the area has resulted in fewer elk wintering on National Forest lands and increased the potential for conflict on private lands. We hope that this burn can go a ways toward reversing that trend.”

Prescribed burns are used by the Forest Service to benefit wildlife and vegetation. A versatile management tool, the burns can reinvigorate rangeland, mimic historically natural fire disturbances, reduce hazardous fuels build-up and improve habitat for a variety of wildlife.

The Bald Mountain burn could take place only if conditions are favorable. These conditions include soil moisture, weather, smoke dispersal and staffing. Weather forecasts will be closely watched for changes in winds, temperature and humidity. Forest Service fire crews will continue to monitor the burn area until all fires are completely out.

Forest Service fire managers are trained to minimize the impacts from smoke to nearby areas during a prescribed fire. By aggressively igniting prescribed burns when the conditions are right, chances are lessened that the fire will generate unacceptable amounts of smoke.

Smoke may be visible from Highway 130 and nearby communities of Centennial and Laramie, Wyo.

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