Fall smoke in the Bitterroot Valley, and in most national forests, is again happening as the fall "prescribed" burns are set, as early as next week. Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest reported a little over 2,200 acres of fires will be set - a combination of underburns (photo above) and burn piles. Most of the planned burns will be in the West Fork Ranger District at the south end of the valley.

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The planned burning is dependent on weather conditions and will eliminate slash piles and forest debris, along with low-level understory fires that are closely monitored. Matt Young, the Bitterroot's Fuels Fire Management Officer, said in a news release, "Over the coming weeks, we will be burning on days that maximize safety and minimize smoke impacts to restore healthy forest conditions."

Underburning ignites ground vegetation around the trees, which encourages new fire-adapted growth and provides new forage for wildlife. It eliminates dead and diseased plants and reduces the possibility of dangerous "crown" fires when a forest fire comes through, spreading from treetop to treetop.

West Fork Ranger District - 1,300 acres of burn piles, 315 acres of underburns

  • Burn Piles - Frazier Interface, Lower West Fork, One and Two Creek, Mud Saddle and Ridge, Basin and Bonnie Blue Creeks, Black Creek, Painted Rocks West, Overwhich.
  • Underburn - 315 acres on Lower West Fork, south of Trapper Creek and north of Lloyd Creek.
  • Darby/Sula Ranger District - 170 acres of burn piles, 450 acres of underburns

  • Burn Piles - Meadow Creek and Cameron Blue, Needle Creek, Barley and North Reimel, Spring Gulch Campground, Westside northwest of Charlos Heights, Little Jumper, Shannon Lake.
  • 2 Underburns - Waddell south of Lake Como and Trapper Bunkhouse SW of Darby.
  • Stevensville Ranger District - 2 acres in 2 burn piles

  • Larry Bass Recreation Area, Three Saddle in Sapphire Mtns.
  • Burn updates and photos of project area are at the Bitterroot National Forest website and the forest's Facebook page.

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