Prescribed burns are underway in the San Juan National Forest near Bayfield.
A burn began Thursday in the Yellow Jacket area in Lange Canyon, just east of the Archuleta County line.
“They will be black lining today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) and then will conduct aerial ignitions in the interior at the end of the week,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the San Juan National Forest.
Burns started Saturday in the Saul’s Creek area are now complete. About 2,500 acres were burned.
Areas selected for prescribed burns are low-elevation forests consisting of ponderosa pine, Gambel oak and grass.
The burns reduce forest fuels and the potential for severe wildfires, improve wildlife habitat and maintain forest ecosystems, according to the Forest Service.
Burns will be completed as weather and fuel conditions permit.
San Juan National Forest officials said they will work to manage conditions to minimize smoke near populated areas.
Burning operations could continue throughout October, weather permitting.
Working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the San Juan National Forest will conduct the burns under air-quality guidelines to reduce the impacts on populated areas.
Portable air-quality monitors will be installed near the eastern edge of Bayfield, as well as a couple of locations farther east near U.S. Highway 160.
Burning will be conducted under wind conditions that move smoke away from Durango and Bayfield toward the interior portions of the San Juan National Forest, north and northwest of Pagosa Springs.
A meteorologist with a specialty in smoke from wildland fires will be in the area and will be in contact with fire management personnel and Colorado air-quality officials.
If any sensitive area becomes heavily affected with smoke overnight, burning will be dramatically curtailed the next day.