Fire managers on the Pine Ridge Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands hope to take advantage of favorable conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality and weather to treat hazardous fuels with prescribed fire as early as today. The 450-acre area, located approximately seven miles southeast of Chadron, may take one to two days to complete.
Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems. These fires mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity. Prescribed fires are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
“The two main objectives of the Collins Prescribed Fire are to reduce hazardous fuels within the ponderosa pine stands and reduce the pine encroachment in natural meadows,” said District Ranger Tim Buskirk. “This will help reduce tree mortality in the event of a wildfire during hot and dry summer months and achieve desired habitat conditions that will benefit wildlife.”
Appropriate conditions must be met before ignitions begin, and weather will be monitored throughout the burn. Burning will be halted if conditions deteriorate.
“We’ve got a great group of firefighters working together to accomplish this prescribed fire project safely, including the Chadron and Crawford fire departments and state and federal agency firefighters,” added Acting District Fire Management Officer Michael Mattmiller.
Smoke may be visible from Highway 385 and 20 and from the communities of Chadron, Hay Springs, and Crawford.
The Pine Ridge Ranger District will notify adjacent landowners, and local law enforcement and fire officials prior to initiating the prescribed fire.