Ignitions Completed on Willow Piles Prescribed Fire

Carson National Forest fire crews completed ignitions on the Willow Piles Prescribed Fire on Tuesday (Feb. 28). Piles of vegetation created from 67 acres of thinning are currently burning down as snow falls over the area to the east of Hopewell Lake. Piles from 350 acres of thinning were treated on Feb. 9. 

“I’m so proud of our fire personnel for safely completing this stage of the project,” said Angie Krall, acting district ranger for the West Zone, which includes the Tres Piedras Ranger District where this project is located. “The work is not done, however. We’re in it for the long haul as we fully enter the patrol and monitor stage.” 

The Willow Piles are located in an area where seasonal snowfall is so far 110 percent of normal, with an average of three to four feet on the ground. The snowpack mitigates the spread of the prescribed fire escaping during wind events. 

The amount of snow limited access for crews on Tuesday, leaving some piles targeted this winter untouched. Plans for those piles, representing 79 acres of thinning, will be added to burn plans in future seasons. 

Fire crews, however, will continue to patrol and monitor the site, with emphasis during and after snowmelt in the spring. Plans to use of a drone outfitted with infrared technology are in the works. 

Burning the Willow Piles is one small step in addressing the long-term forest health of Carson National Forest, which is part of the 3.8 million-acre Rio Chama Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project in New Mexico and Colorado. The multistate project aims to improve and maintain water quality and watershed function and restore natural fire regimes using prescribed fire as one of the many tools across all lands in the project area. More prescribed fire is planned for the Willow Piles area and throughout the two-state project footprint on federal and non-federal lands. 

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