By Kathryn Reed
For decades, fire has been lacking off Luther Pass. That’s all about to change.
Starting this fall and through 2020 fire will be reintroduced by the U.S. Forest Service. The initial phase will be to thin some of the forest and then begin burning.
“The reason we need to do the pretreatment thinning and burning is we will reduce the amount of conifer encroachment,” said Raul Sanchez, project point man.
Pile burns will take place when weather conditions permit. After that a “broadcast burn” will begin.
“(This) means we put fire to the ground in a controlled manner and allow the fire to burn on its own,” Sanchez said.
Restoration work will also create better habitat for and diversity of wildlife.
Because the four areas that makeup up the 640-acre Big Meadow Creek Watershed run together it makes for an unhealthy habitat. Meadow, aspen stands, adjacent forest and riparian corridors dominate this area of the basin.
Cattle grazing, fire suppression and timber harvest through the decades have made this setting less natural and more forested.
“The big thing is some conifer encroachment is going into these unique areas. Some are no longer meadows because conifers are in their place,” explained Sanchez, U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist.
Because this is such a remote area without roads, hand tools will be used for thinning. It is on the left side of Highway 89 going toward Hope Valley. From the Big Meadow trailhead walk in a ways; the meadow complex is part of the project, as are the two drainages that go farther up the watershed.
The pre-decisional memo and project area map are at http://www.fs.fed.us.r5/ltbmu/projects. For information, contact Raul Sanchez at (530) 543-2679 or firstname.lastname@example.org.