With the change in weather, the region’s Forest Service offices announced that it will start burning slash piles to reduce hazardous fuels.
During the summer months, crews have been stacking downed timber and brush into 10-foot-high tepee-like piles waiting for ideal conditions to burn them.
“Prescribed fire activity is highly weather dependent,” said Amy Baumer, a spokesman for the Salmon-Challis National Forest in a news release. “As areas come into favorable prescribed fire weather conditions, specialists will hand ignite piles. This process relies on coordination with the National Weather Service and Air quality regulators to determine the best possible weather conditions that promote smoke dispersal and limit smoke impacts to local and regional communities.”
The recent snowfall and cooler weather has made conditions safe for burning. Operations will continue through the end of the year.
“With the weather change, we’re going to go ahead and start burning slash piles, especially in the Island Park area,” said Sarah Wheeler, of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. “We also have some burn projects in the Palisades area and Pocatello Nordic ski area.”
Slash pile burns are planned in the Ashton-Island Park Ranger District at the Yale Creek Subdivision, Sawtell Mountain Road, McRea slash pit, Meadow Creek slash pit, Buffalo Campground and along the Fish Creek Road. Piles on the Dubois Ranger District will be in the Ching Creek/Cottonwood Loop area.
In the Salmon-Challis area, burns are planned at Grouse Peak (east of Challis), Big Hill (west of Challis), South 21 (north of Stanley), and near Gibbonsville.
“The weather has improved to allow these burning projects in pretty much all of the Western states, except for California,” said Wheeler, who is currently working with a wildfire crew doing fire suppression work in the Lake Tahoe area of California.
Baumer said burn projects are meant to reduce wildland fire threats.
“Their primary purpose is to reduce the threat of wildland fire to the local community and its infrastructure by removing the accumulation of natural fuel buildup, which increases the defensible space around private land, improves timber stand resiliency to wildfire, and improves wildlife habitat,” she said.
The Forest Service said nearby residents can expect some lingering smoke depending on weather conditions.