Friday, July 1, 2011

Prescribed burn planned for south county

BLM wants to reduce fuels in Martin Canyon

Express Staff Writer

The Bureau of Land Management plans to set 150 acres east of Bellevue on fire within the next month in an effort to prevent a larger natural fire.

Kyli Astle, fire information officer for the agency's Twin Falls District, said the burn in Martin Canyon could take place any time between today and July 23, depending on weather conditions.

"They're most likely not burning this week, but it's hard to say," Astle said Thursday.

Astle said crews will try to avoid hot, dry weather and high winds that could push a prescribed burn out of control.

The burn is expected to take two to three days. Crews will continue to monitor the area for two to three days after the burn has been completed.

The burn is intended to decrease the risk of a big wildfire by reducing the amount of dried and dead sage and trees. Astle said the last time a natural fire occurred in the area was "decades" ago.

"There's just a lot of fuel loading out there," she said.

According to a BLM news release, prescribed burns also enhance wildlife habitat, promote aspen regeneration and improve watershed function.

Astle said the prescribed burn will not occur near major residential areas. She said residents of the south valley may notice some residual smoke, though most smoke is expected to lift and move to the east.

So far, the Martin Canyon fire is the only prescribed burn planned by the BLM for the Wood River Valley this summer.

Katherine Wutz:

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