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Prescribed burns planned

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Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

For the third time in four years, the U.S. Forest Service fire and fuels staff is planning to implement prescribed burns this spring in the Upton and Osage area on the Thunder Basin National Grassland. The first of these burns occurred this past weekend, according to a press release dated March 8 from Aaron Voos, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland media contact.

Burns will be scheduled when “weather and fuel moisture conditions” permit, according to the release.

“The proposed Clay Spur burn units are located on National Forest System lands managed by the Douglas Ranger District in Weston County, Wyo. The prescribed fire areas are bordered by natural fuel breaks, roads, livestock trails and creek bottoms,” the release states.

According to the release, the approximately 1,200-acre area is 16 miles northwest of Newcastle and 5 miles north of Osage. The area being burned is composed of “ponderosa pine, intermixed with juniper, cottonwoods, with grass and sagebrush flats” at an elevation of 4,600 feet.”

In 2021, approximately 500 acres was successfully burned and another 300 acres in 2023, the release says.

“Much of the vegetation within the project area has not experienced fire in the past 50-100 years. The Clay Spur treatment will mimic historically natural fire disturbances by burning in a mosaic pattern,” the release says. “The burn will benefit a variety of vegetative species and their age class diversity, as well as wildlife habitat and domestic stock pasture. Fire danger will also be reduced by removing potentially hazardous fuels.”

According to the report, the necessary smoke permits have been obtained and smoke will likely be visible in surrounding communities and along U.S. Highway 16. Each of the burns planned by the Forest Service has gone through an environmental analysis and a detailed burn plan is developed in advance, the release notes.

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