by Pam Zubeck
About 1,500 acres in the Trout West Ecosystem Management Project northwest of Woodland Park will be "treated" with prescribed burns that will begin soon.
The announcement comes from the Pike National Forest's Pikes Peak Ranger District in a news release.
The prescribed burns may cover up to 400 acres at one time. The burns will start when "favorable weather and fuel conditions permit" and continue into the fall but no specific days were given.
Ignition can take place only when weather and fuel conditions are optimal. Once the project begins, burning may last from one to several days, with smoke visible from Highway 67 during burning days and several days following ignition. These burns may continue into fall 2012.
Vegetation types are mostly ponderosa pine, grass and shrubs. Most of the timber has been thinned by commercial projects and hazard fuels reduction crews and the slash piles from these treatments have been burned. Surface burning of the area is the final step in the process and is designed to reduce the amount of timber, needles and small diameter woody debris. Fire managers expect the burns to improved soil nutrients and help grass and shrubs to re-sprout for wildlife habitat.
The Trout Creek Prescribed Burn is part of the Trout West Ecosystem Management Project on the Pike & San Isabel National Forests. It is a multi-year undertaking to restore more open conifer stands to the area, increase the amount of grass, shrubs and aspen and reduce dead fuel loading on the forest floor.
For more information contact the Pikes Peak District office at 719-636-1602