Fall pile burning starting in Grand Teton and BTNF

MOOSE, Wyo. — A couple of prescribed burns in both the park and the forest will be getting underway before the winter season sets in.

Grand Teton

Teton Interagency Fire personnel will be burning slash piles created from fuel reduction projects along the Signal Mountain Summit Road and Pacific Creek Road as well as other areas of Grand Teton National Park this month. Firefighters will burn these piles under low fire behavior conditions resulting from wet weather and snow accumulation. Smoke may be visible from these pile ignitions during the day of the ignition and may linger in the area for a few days following ignition.

Firefighters have been focusing on a fuels reduction project along the Signal Mountain Summit Road to reduce vegetation along the road corridor and around the communications tower at the summit. This project, initiated in 2014, includes thinning and removing lower limbs from trees, and the removal of dead wood and brush from the forest floor. Firefighters place the slash from fuels reduction work into tepee-shaped piles and let them cure for a year before burning them.

Firefighters are also finishing up work on a project along the Pacific Creek Road leading to the Pacific Creek Subdivision. This fuels reduction project was designed to lower risk of losing structures to a wildfire and create more open areas that will help moderate fire behavior during a wildfire. Fuels reduction work also increases firefighter and public safety in the event of a wildfire. This area was previously treated in 2002 and 2005. The fuel loading along the road corridor has not been addressed in previous treatments and will also remove many dangerous hazard trees resulting from the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Crews started work in the summer of 2016 and generated approximately 350 slash piles to be burned.

Additional debris piles have been constructed around the park resulting from regular hazard tree removal and routine trail and road maintenance. These piles are also targeted for burning as conditions allow this fall.

Fuels reduction piles are only ignited under certain conditions, including favorable smoke dispersal and weather conditions that limit the chance of fire spread. The areas will be monitored by patrols after burning is completed. Public and firefighter safety is always the number one priority in pile burning operations.

Smoke from debris piles may be visible while piles are lit and burn down over the course of a few days. Fire management staff tend to the piles to assure complete combustion and consumption of all fuels and to monitor burning conditions for potential fire spread out of the pile area. Some smoke may linger in the pile area and in drainages as temperatures drop during the evening. Signs will be posted along travel routes and roadsides to remind travelers to use headlights for safe travel within the pile areas.

Bridger-Teton

The Bridger-Teton National Forest will conduct a prescribed burn on the Jackson Ranger District in mid-October before the heavy winter weather arrives and inhibits burning activities.

The Taylor Mountain unit is 127-acres, located approximately 7.6 miles South of Wilson and adjacent to the Highland Hills and Hidden Hills subdivisions.

The prescribed burn is part of the Teton-to-Snake vegetation management project, which helps the Forest meet essential goals of being a good neighbor through firewise practices for homes and neighborhoods adjacent to public land in support of fire adaptive communities. The project also reduces risk and cost of fire suppression during an unwanted fire within the wildland urban interface area.

Crews will light the 127-acre unit by hand using ignition devices, such as drip torches. The unit is broken into 29 sub-units to allow firefighters the opportunity to ignite areas of fuel, known as jackpots, directly adjacent to private parcels in phases. Firefighters will have hoses to help cool the fire and reduce fire behavior during burning, if needed.

Snow or moisture may also be present to aid in reducing fire activity. Implementation may take several days or burn windows and crews will continue mop-up and monitoring efforts as needed.

Actual ignitions for burning of these sub-units will depend on meeting strict parameters for weather and fire behavior conditions. Smoke will be visible within Teton County and surrounding area during the ignition phase and for a short time after lighting has been completed. No closures are anticipated with the projects burn operations.

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