OWYHEE COUNTY, Idaho — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has planned a prescribed burn for Juniper Mountain, with the goal of reducing western juniper tree encroachment and diversifying the sagebrush landscape, thus improving wildlife habitat.
The Graves Creek prescribed burn will be implemented on roughly 3,550 acres of public land, sometime between September 19 and October 9, depending on weather conditions.
Once initiated, burning is expected to last up to five days. BLM officials say personnel and equipment will be patrolling the burn and mopping up hotspots for several days afterward.
BLM fuels program lead Lance Okeson says wild-land fires can benefit Idaho landscapes in many ways and the lack of natural wildfires can cause problems for the states ecosystem.
“That has consequences when you take fire out of the ecosystem that relies on periodic fire. You do that for 100 plus years and you’ve got issues,” he said.
Reintroducing fire to land can have benefits like clearing out invasive species and resetting the land for diverse plant species.
“It’s how nature naturally rejuvenates itself. It clears out the dead and downed, it clears out the weak and diseased. It removes the invasives that aren’t supposed to be there. It clears the area for those new plants to thrive,” said Kelsy Brizendine, fire information officer for BLM.
Local roads within the project area will be intermittently closed during the burn, with traffic allowed to pass through once it's safe to do so.
The public can expect to see smoke rising from the area during the operation, and residual smoke may linger for multiple days.
For more information on the prescribed burn, click here.