A prescribed burn southeast of Chadron last week mostly went according to plan, though officials were unable to complete the entire burn due to weather conditions.
The U.S. Forest Service burned 305 acres on the Collons Allotment seven miles southeast of Chadron west of Bordeaux Road Thursday. A second burn in the same area but closer to the road, which would have brought the total acreage to about 500, was called off Friday due to weather but will be rescheduled, said Erin Considine, the public information officer for the burn.
"The number of acres reflects the fire perimeter, not how much of the landscape ended up black. The fire burned in a manner where patches of green vegetation stand out like islands in the ocean. This is the result fire managers planned for," said a press release from the USFS Monday.
“In general, what we’re trying to do is clean up some of the burn scars from the 2006 fires,” Considine said.
“The two main objectives of this important treatment are to reduce hazardous fuels within the Ponderosa pine stands and reduce pine encroachment into natural meadows,” said Pine Ridge District Ranger Tim Buskirk in a press release ahead of the prescribed burn. “This will help reduce tree mortality in the event of a wildfire during hot and dry fall months and also achieve improved wildlife habitat in the area.”
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The Collons Allotment burn took place entirely on Forest Service property, with approximately 45 personnel from the USFS, National Park Service, Nebraska Forest Service and Game and Parks.
Prescribed burns are designed to mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity. Appropriate weather conditions in terms of temperature, wind and precipitation, as well as fuel moisture and staffing are all considered before a planned prescribed burn is started. Last week’s fire began around 10:30 a.m. Thursday with a test ignition, Considine said. That phase usually lasts around an hour as firefighters monitor the test burn to ensure the fuels are reacting the way they want.
“That went well so we made the call to move into the full burn,” Considine said.
Firefighters remained on scene until around 9 p.m. Thursday and returned to the area Friday morning for the mop-up phase.