LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Smoke might be seen rising from nearby mountains this month as the Forest Service works to clear flammable brush and downed trees. The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area’s (SMNRA) fire crews will begin pile burning throughout the month.
Prescribed fires are a preventative tool used for several purposes, including reducing hazardous fuels (overgrown vegetation). The three types of prescribed fire are pile burning, understory/underburning, and broadcast burning. They all help decrease the threat of high-intensity, high-severity wildfires; reduce the risk of insect and disease outbreaks; recycle nutrients that increase soil productivity; and improve wildlife habitat. Another benefit resulting from prescribed fire is a reduction in wildfire danger to local communities.
The actual days for pile burning will depend on several factors, including humidity, wind speed and direction, temperature, and fuel moisture. Fire crews only conduct burns on days when weather conditions exist for smoke dispersal.
Air quality considerations are an essential part of prescribed fire, and each fire prescription is planned to disperse smoke rapidly and reduce lingering haze. Before each prescribed fire is ignited, fire managers will get approval from the local air quality district in which the burn is to take place.
Fire crews divide extensive landscape burns into blocks of land over multiple days. This allows them to halt burning activity within those areas if anything is out of the pre-established prescription conditions, such as too much wind. Crews can start again when conditions are more acceptable. Fire managers create a burn plan, which includes smoke management details, fire control measures, acceptable weather parameters, and equipment and personnel needs. The burn plan also describes in detail how the ecosystem will benefit from fire.
Possible burn locations include:
- Potosi Pass
- Roughly 100 acres of pile burning is planned in the Mt. Potosi area near mile marker 20 on Nevada State Route 160, one mile south of Mountain Springs, Nevada.
- Coal Springs/Lovell Summit
- Roughly 300 acres of pile burning is planned along the Forest Service Road 45536 (Lovell Summit Road) between Lovell and Trout Canyons.
- Clark Canyon
- Nearly 250 acres of pile burning is planned near Clark Canyon, approximately 15 miles northeast of Pahrump, Nevada.
- Lee Canyon Guard Station
- Roughly two acres of pile burning is planned along the north side of Nevada State Route 156 (Lee Canyon Road) near mile marker one.
- Camp Stimson
- Approximately 20 acres of pile burning is planned near mile marker six on Nevada State Route 158 (Deer Creek Highway), one-half mile northwest of Deer Creek Picnic Area.
- Rainbow Canyon Summer Homes
- Around 49 acres of pile burning is planned near mile marker two of Nevada State Route 157 (Kyle Canyon Road), one-tenth of a mile southeast of the Kyle Canyon Rainbow subdivision.