Fire prescribed for 570 acres near Wyoming border | ParkRecord.com
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Fire prescribed for 570 acres near Wyoming border

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The Hoop Lake and East Beaver Creek areas will be closed for at least one day sometime between Oct. 1 and the end of November for a prescribed burn.

According to U.S. Forest Service Officials, the timber in both areas is aging and need to be cleared to promote new growth, improve wildlife habitat and lower the risk of wildfires.

"What fires can do is clean out some of the down and dead fuels. And some timber types need the fire to regenerate," said Kathy Jo Pollock, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest spokeswoman.

The Forest Service will be clearing 570 acres in the Hoop Lake and East Beaver Creek areas, located 11 miles south of Lonetree, Wyoming near Wyoming S.R. 414 and Middle Fork Beaver Creek. Smoke may also be seen from I-80.

The areas will be closed to the public the day of the burn, and possibly the day after. If the Forest Service gets started later in the day but did not get the targeted acreage, they may continue the burn until the next day.

Signs have already gone up in the two areas notifying the public of the burn. But when the day of the burn is chosen, the Forest Service will also go into the area and ask anyone present to leave.

"We ask people to avoid that area the day of the burn," Pollock said. "And if we get all the things lined up and we can burn, I always send out another news release saying that we are starting the burn. So people need to make sure they go to our website at fs.usda.gov/uwcnf."

Very specific conditions have to be met before the burn can take place. And if the conditions are not met, the burn plans may have to be put on hold this year. The burn at Hoop Lake was planned two years ago, but because the weather did not cooperate at the time, the plans were canceled.

"We have to look at the weather conditions and the fuel moisture, and make sure when we’re doing prescribed burns that we’re meeting the objectives," Pollock said. "If the weather doesn’t cooperate or we don’t have a clearing index, then we will not implement the burn."

The clearing index takes into account air pollution potential, as well as wind direction and speed, to ensure air quality isn’t affected and that the smoke will rise.

"Sometimes you may need a little wind to carry the fire, but we definitely don’t want 30 to 40 mph gusts," Pollock said.

Fire personnel will use hand-held drip torches and a helicopter to ignite the fire..

"It’s already prepped and ready to go. And we just wait until the conditions are right to meet the clearing indexes," Pollock said.

To ensure the fire stays in the prescribed burn area, the Forest Service will establish control lines that are dug into soil, just as if it were a wildfire. The Forest Service also looks for water sources so the fire engines that are standing by can fill up to contain the fire if it is carried out of bounds.

"When we do these burns in the fall or in the spring, they don’t burn as hot as in the summer. So that’s why we do them then," Pollock said.

The Forest Service tries to do two or three prescribed burns in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest during the year, depending on the conditions and hazardous fuel.

The fire burns create what are called ‘mosaics.’ A mosaic is where green islands remain in the landscape.

"Even with a wildfire, it doesn’t usually burn every inch of the parameter completely black like a moonscape," Pollock said. "There’s always large green islands in there also, and the vegetation and timber will start growing back the minute it gets precipitation on them."

Pollock recommends hunters and other area users pay attention to the Forest Service website to know when the burn is starting.


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