Laramie Ranger District fire crews could begin prescribed burning on the eastern half of the Pole Mountain unit as early as next week as weather conditions improve.

The U.S. Forest Service says in a press release that crews will burn up to 100 acres at a time as weather permits over the next few months as part of the continuing Pole Mountain Vegetation Project.

Smoke may be visible from the Happy Jack Highway and nearby areas. The agency says it will get the necessary smoke permits from the State of Wyoming before burning begins.

The Forest Service will put up signs to keep the public informed, and crews will monitor the burn areas on a regular basis.

The Forest Service will plow some segments of road in order to reach prescribed burn units, but says the plowing is for administrative use only – all Pole Mountain roads remain closed to public motor vehicle use.

The agency says the condition of native vegetation for wildlife and livestock on Pole Mountain is in decline. Conifers encroach upon sagebrush habitats, fuel loading is taking place and the agency is concerned about the resiliency of the range and forest.

Under the Pole Mountain Vegetation Project, the Forest Service will treat over 9,000 acres over the next seven to 10 years in order to bolster forest health. Mastication and chainsaw work began in 2014.

The Forest Service says prescribed burning can imitate natural fire disturbances to reduce the buildup of hazardous fuels and improve wildlife habitat.