Wilderness fire left to burn | SteamboatToday.com

Wilderness fire left to burn

A wilderness fire near Oil Springs will run its natural course rather than being actively extinguished, fire managers decided. The Northern Rockies Fire Use Team hopes that letting the fire burn will save manpower and help reap the benefits of controlled burns.

The fire is between Grand Junction and Rangely on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Lightning sparked the fire July 6 in an area of juniper forests and grassland. It grew to about 800 acres and likely will continue to burn through the summer and fall, said Maggie Pittman, information officer for the Northern Rockies Fire Use Team.

Although several ranches and oil and gas developments occupy the area, they are far enough away and the fire is contained enough that they are not in danger, Pittman said.

The fire team thinks allowing the fire to burn will create better foraging ground for wildlife and livestock.

“The fire converts the piñon, juniper and sage back to more native vegetation, which is more beneficial to the ground and better forage for animals,” Pittman said.

Natural fire use also costs less than fire suppression, she said.

The fire may grow larger in hot weeks ahead, but fire managers will continue to monitor it and will reassess their approach if necessary, she said.

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