Forest Service fire crews are preparing to burn slash piles at multiple locations throughout the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests in Wyoming and Colorado.

Even after multiple years of this type of work, it is estimated that hundreds of slash piles remain on the two National Forests.  The public and forest users should be prepared to see smoke from many piles set to be burned near frequented recreation areas, communities, and roadways.

The Forest Service will make people aware of the burning of highly visible piles as the date of ignition approaches.

“In the foreseeable future, we are going to continue removing fuels by burning piles,” said Vern Bentley, Fire Management Officer for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland.  “Our crews are well trained in this type of work and pile burning is now a staple in our annual program of work.”

Many forest management projects have been completed in both the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests over the last few years, including the removal of dead trees from recreation areas and travel corridors, as well as reducing hazardous fuels produced as a result of the bark beetle epidemic.  Remaining fuels have been gathered into slash piles.

The piles will be burned in order to reduce the amount of dead fuels in the interest of long-term public safety.

Preparations for burning have been prompted by recent patterns of cool, wet weather.  Although some locations are currently experiencing conditions favorable to burning, fire managers continue to monitor weather forecasts before the piles are set ablaze.

Conditions and predicted weather must allow for safe burning as well as the elimination of any threat of flames spreading to surrounding vegetation.  Each of the prescribed burns planned by the Forest Service have undergone an environmental analysis, and detailed burn plans have been prepared in advance.

Signage is typically placed on nearby roads to notify the public of prescribed burns.  Closures are rarely necessary.

In order to ensure that conditions for smoke dispersal developed in collaboration with the Air Quality Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality are being met, smoke from all planned fires will be closely monitored.  Conditions for smoke dispersal reduce the possibility of undesired smoke impacts.