Agencies ready for Oak Ridge prescribed burn

MEEKER — Colorado Division of Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management White River Field Office and the White River National Forest Blanco Ranger District are ready to begin work on the Oak Ridge prescribed burn. The cooperating agencies plan to burn 766 acres on the Oak Ridge project this week if weather conditions remain favorable.
The burn is planned for the Seeley Unit of the Oak Ridge State Wildlife Area, which lies about 10 miles southeast of Meeker just north of County Road 8.
There are multiple objectives being targeted in this project. By burning the old, decadent brush species in the area, wildlife habitat will be improved by providing younger and more nutritious browse. Resource managers hope this improved habitat will alleviate some of the deer and elk use on nearby private lands. A desired mosaic of burned and unburned areas increases the age class and structural diversity throughout the area, a condition favored by most birds and mammal species. Burning oak and other mountain brush species temporarily reduces the possibility of a larger wildland fire occurring in the area for a period of five to 10 years.
A number of agencies and groups are supporting this project with personnel, funding or both. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Yampa/White River Habitat Partnership Program, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Colorado Division of Wildlife are all involved with this effort. Planning and technical oversight is provided by BLM with personnel and equipment being provided by both BLM and USFS. If this year’s project is successful, burning could continue for many years to come, with the goal to improve overall habitat conditions in the area.
The project is expected to take four or five days and smoke will be visible from Meeker during that time. The Oak Ridge project was slated for implementation last fall; attempts to burn the identified area were thwarted due to the rain and weather patterns that developed.
All required planning documents have been obtained including Colorado State Air Pollution Division smoke permits.