Forest Service performs prescribed burn near Duck Creek Village; more to come

This May 2017 file photo shows a slash pile being burned in a prescribed fire near Duck Creek Village, Dixie National Forest, Utah, May 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — As part of a three-month project to reduce fuel in Dixie National Forest as fire season approaches, the U.S. Forest Service completed a 349-acre prescribed burn of slash piles Thursday in the Henry Knolls area north of Duck Creek Village.

Slash piles are burned in a prescribed fire near Duck Creek Village, Dixie National Forest, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

Additional prescribed fire and mechanical projects will continue through May and into early June as the Forest Service works to reduce fuel across approximately 4,500 acres in the Cedar City, Powell and Escalante Ranger Districts.

The most recent burn, which consisted of hand-piled logging, thinning and natural slash, resulted in a 90 percent reduction of dead and downed fuel.

The burn will greatly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the greater Duck Creek and Mammoth Creek areas of Cedar Mountain, according to a posting by the Forest Service on social media.

The prescribed burn process, also referred to as hazardous fuel reduction, includes the removal of excess live or dead vegetation accumulations. Fuel and fire managers conduct the burns to reduce the potential for large wildland fires and improve working conditions for firefighters in the case of fire.

A slash pile is prepared to be burned in a prescribed fire near Duck Creek Village, Dixie National Forest, Utah, May 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

Reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire is done with the goal of protecting life and property, including communities, municipal watersheds, native plant communities, threatened and endangered species and other socially important cultural resources.

Prescribed burns are a regular necessity as fuels build up annually through the natural growth and die off of vegetation and as harvesting activities create excess slash, such as wood chips.

“A combination of mechanical and prescribed fire treatments are needed to mitigate hazardous fuels, restore forest health and create sustainable, fire adapted, resilient ecosystems,” Keith Adams, Dixie National Forest fuels planner, said in a news release.

Mechanical treatments utilize traditional harvesting techniques to remove commercially available products like timber and firewood. Such techniques are also utilized to rearrange noncommercial vegetation to reduce fuel density.

The prescribed burns, in turn, act as the main fuel reducer once mechanical treatments are completed.

“Prescribed fire consumes non-commercial live and dead surface vegetation/fuels (needle litter, grasses, shrubs, branches, small trees and downed logs) that are the primary carriers of fire,” Adams said.

For more information on upcoming burns, or in case you see smoke and wonder whether to report it, check the following resources:

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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