Forest Roads 1950, 1910 and 1914 that comprise the Loop Road in the Valle Vidal Unit are now open. The area of land within those roads, which comprised the Loop Road prescribed fire area, is also open to the public. This area was closed for safety reasons while the prescribed fire was being conducted.
Although the temporary closure has been lifted, the public is urged to avoid the burn area as some vegetation in the interior continues to smolder. There are also a number of stump holes that will continue to hold heat that may injure a person if walked on. There is also a concern with burned trees falling in some areas.
Fire personnel continue to patrol the Loop Road and cool down the edges of the fire perimeter. Smoke may continue to be visible in the interior of the burn area for the next few days.
Although windy conditions presented a challenge last week, firefighters waited until the winds decreased to safely conduct firing operations. They successfully accomplished 5,700 acres with a variety of fire intensities that will result in a healthier, more diverse landscape.
Mostly moderate fire behavior was observed that consumed grass, small trees and shrubs which will reduce the amount of ladder fuels that can lead to crown fires. Some group tree torching occurred which is a desired effect because it will create openings in the canopy where trees are dense and overcrowded. By creating these openings it allows light to reach the forest floor benefiting herbaceous species, shrubs, and allowing for shade intolerant species such as ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir to establish seedlings. Any snags created will host insects that feed birds and other wildlife.
For additional information about the Loop Road prescribed fire, contact the Questa Ranger District at 575-586-0520.