Expect to see smoke coming from the eastern edge of the Pole Mountain unit as Laramie Ranger District fire crews continue small-scale prescribed burns throughout the week.

The U.S. Forest Service says in a news release that smoke from the burning should be minimal, but it will likely be visible to the public as the burn units are near the intersection of Happy Jack Highway and Vedauwoo Road.

Wet weather has given fire crews proper fuel conditions to go forward with the burns which target tree wells and subsequent layers of dead needles and branches. Green, moist vegetation surrounding the tree wells acts as a fire break.

Other areas on Pole Mountain saw similar burns in mid-May. The Forest Service says it has obtained the necessary smoke permits from the state.

The burning may temporarily affect dispersed recreation in the area, depending on the location of nearby camps. Crews will personally contact forest users regarding any temporary closures, and signs will be placed on adjacent roads notifying folks of the burns.

Fire crews will follow up by regularly monitoring burned areas.

Drip torches will be the main tools used to carry out the burns. The Forest Service says burning will not commence if weather conditions are unfavorable. Fuel conditions will also be factored into daily decisions to burn.

The work is part of the continuing Pole Mountain Vegetation Project on the Medicine Bow National Forest in eastern Albany County. The overall project will continue over a period of about 7-10 years. Over 9,000 acres have been authorized to be treated with a goal of producing a resilient, diverse and historically healthy forest. Chainsaw work and mastication began in 2014.

The Forest Service says the condition of native vegetation for wildlife and livestock on Pole Mountain is in decline. Conifers encroach on sagebrush habitats, fuel loading is occurring and resiliency of the range and forest is a concern.

Prescribed burning can mimic natural fires, reducing hazardous fuels buildup and improving habitat for wildlife.

For more information about the project, contact the Laramie Ranger District at 745-2300.

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