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Utah-Rx burns postponed

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  • Utah-Rx burns postponed

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - With conditions in Utah getting dry and
    hot early in the season, federal and state agencies have postponed
    some prescribed burns out of concern that they could become
    uncontrollable wildfires.
    Normally at this time of year, the Bureau of Land Management,
    U.S. Forest Service, state of Utah and National Park Service would
    be lighting fires in targeted areas to eliminate dense undergrowth
    and reduce future fire danger.
    However, this year fire managers are delaying the burns over
    several thousand acres near Circleville, Cedar City, Panguitch and
    Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks until fall.
    If dry weather persists, the Forest Service may postpone
    completion of an 800-acre burn near Escalante that was started this
    spring.
    "We don't have the right weather window right now and we
    probably won't until the fall," said Donna Owens, the district
    ranger for the Powell District of the Forest Service. "It got dry
    and hot early."
    Some past prescribed burns have gotten out of control. Last
    year, two prescribed burns near Panguitch on the Dixie National
    Forest combined to scorch 78,000 acres and cost $6 million to
    extinguish. Known collectively as the Sanford fire, these blazes
    were caused, in part, by severe drought conditions, according to a
    Forest Service review of the fire published earlier this year.
    One of the lessons learned was that fire managers need to pay
    more attention to lack of moisture in the burn areas.
    Moisture content runs low during droughts, causing fires to burn
    hotter and faster.
    Land managers must now look for other ways to reduce wildfire
    danger. One tool is the "mechanical" removal of dense
    undergrowth.
    "Mechanical thinning is the politically correct term for
    cutting down trees," said Bruce Fields, the fuels management
    specialist at Bryce Canyon National Park. "The intention is to
    reduce the small trees that will catch fire and spread into the
    large trees."
    But mechanical thinning isn't the way nature would take care of
    the problem on its own, and fire managers say it isn't always as
    effective as burning.
    "In a lot of areas, fire is just the most appropriate tool,"
    said Paul Briggs, a fuels program manager with the BLM in Cedar
    City. "If we have to delay burning for a couple of years until we
    get back into a wetter cycle, we will probably do that."

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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