GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Federal fire officials from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit anticipate conditions will be ideal Friday to ignite a 646-acre prescribed fire designed to improve environmental conditions in the Town of Palisade Watershed.
Smoke will be very visible on the slopes of the Grand Mesa from Grand Valley, Plateau Valley and I-70. The fire will be about seven miles southeast of the Town of Palisade.
“We will only ignite this prescribed fire if conditions are ideal for a safe, effective burn, as well as for good smoke dispersal away from area communities,” said Lathan Johnson, Fuels Specialist for the BLM Grand Junction Field Office. “We will make the final call Friday morning after reviewing the weather and vegetation moisture. Smoke should be visible by late morning and last until late afternoon.”
Twitter updates for the Palisade Watershed Prescribed Fire #palisadeburn will be available by following @ucrfirecenter. An information line will be staffed at 970 456-3623.
Fire officials ask the public to stay clear of this area during the burn, both for their own safety and that of firefighters.
The burn is the result of an agreement among the BLM, the Town of Palisade and City of Grand Junction. A large amount of debris and other fuel for wildfires has built-up in this area because there hasn’t been a wildfire in a number of years. This prescribed burn will decrease that fuel load, helping reduce the risk of a much larger wildfire. A prescribed fire will burn much less intensely than a wildfire, but it will still be effective at reducing fuel loads in the area. The planned burn will also improve wildlife habitat by stimulating new, more nutritious plant production in the burned area.
“The 2009 Palisade Watershed Fire Mitigation Plan identifies this area as needing treatment to reduce the chance of a large, intense wildfire that could severely impact the watershed,” said Frank Watt, Public Works Director for the Town of Palisade.
The prescribed fire is planned in oak brush and other shrubs on 588 acres owned by the Town of Palisade and 58 acres of BLM. A detailed prescribed fire plan has been developed, and appropriate smoke permits have been obtained from the State of Colorado.