Responsibility for management of the Doe Canyon Fire, burning 10 miles southeast of Dove Creek, has been turned over to the Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest, and road closures caused by the blaze have been lifted.
The fire area will now be patrolled and monitored by local Forest Service firefighters as part of their normal duties, said Lorena Williams, USFS acting executive assistant, in a news release issued Tuesday.
Reopened areas cover a swath of the national forest, including all land bounded by Forest Road 504 at intersections with Forest Road 506. All roads in the area, including Forest Service roads 506A, 506B, 506E, 506M, 506K1 and 215, also have reopened.
Firefighters will patrol and monitor the containment area until the fire is extinguished, Williams said. Fire activity is minimal, but smoke may be visible at times as large logs and stumps slowly burn away. At night, smoke may settle downslope in valleys to the south along the Dolores River Canyon.
Since June 20, firefighters have managed the lightning-sparked Doe Canyon Fire to improve the health of the Ponderosa pine forest, while protecting economic and recreational resources.
The fire has consumed 2,560 acres within a predefined containment area southeast of Dove Creek, Williams said. It has burned as a low-intensity surface fire – playing a natural role in the ecosystem by removing forest litter, excess shrubs and small trees, so future fires will burn with less intensity.
The fire is listed at 85% contained, with full containment estimated to be accomplished on July 15 by InciWeb, an interagency online information system that tracks wildfires in the United States.
Logging and ranching activities in the area continued safely along with fire management operations, Williams said.
She added that the outlook for the Doe Canyon Fire area is excellent: Creeping surface fire removed excess fuels without damaging the soil. Many patches of forest undergrowth did not burn, creating a “mosaic” pattern that will encourage the growth of a diverse mix of vegetation and improve habitat for wildlife, she said.
Firefighters have removed much evidence of their work, Williams said. Fire lines have been returned to the original shape of the terrain, and re-covered with organic material to encourage the growth of later reseeding. Water bars have been installed to prevent erosion where fire lines were built in steep areas.