Many of those large piles of tepee-shaped timbers and branches often seen along national park and Forest Service roads are getting the torch as weather conditions become favorable to burning.
Firefighters are burning slash piles west of Island Park in the Yale Creek area, along the Signal Mountain Summit Road and Pacific Creek Road in Grand Teton National Park and a 127-acre area south of Wilson, Wyo.
Visitors to these areas can expect some smoke, firefighters and warning signs, especially just after the fires are ignited.
The project near Island Park is treating 3,160 acres to reduce timber fuels around the Old West Ranch subdivisions. The project, started in 2018, is designed to “reduce fuel loadings and improve vegetation and wildlife habitat,” according to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
The Signal Mountain Summit Road project was started in 2014.
“(It) includes thinning and removing lower limbs from trees, and the removal of dead wood and brush from the forest floor,” a park news release said. “Firefighters place the slash from fuels reduction work into tepee-shaped piles and let them cure for a year before burning them.”
The area along Pacific Creek Road was last treated in 2002 and 2005.
“The fuel loading along the road corridor has not been addressed in previous treatments and will also remove many dangerous hazard trees resulting from the mountain pine beetle epidemic,” the park said. “Crews started work in the summer of 2016 and generated approximately 350 slash piles to be burned.”
Other slash piles around the park are gathered from regular hazard tree removal and trail maintenance and are also slated to be burned during this month.
The project, 7.5 miles south of Wilson, includes Forest Service land adjacent to the Highland Hills and Hidden Hills Subdivision. The burn is done to reduce the risk and cost of fire suppression during an unwanted nearby wildfire.
“Fire management staff tend to the piles to assure complete combustion and consumption of all fuels and to monitor burning conditions for potential fire spread out of the pile area,” the park news release said. “Some smoke may linger in the pile area and in drainages as temperatures drop during the evening. Signs will be posted along travel routes and roadsides to remind travelers to use headlights for safe travel within the pile areas.”