Prescribed burning designed to lessen the possibility of catastrophic wildfire is on hold across much of the western United States because of COVID-19 concerns.
“Anytime that you do prescribed burning, you put smoke into the air,” said Alyse Sharpe, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “We want to prevent any effects from smoke that might further worsen conditions for those who are at risk in our communities while reducing exposure for employees who might not otherwise need to travel.”
Prescribed fire is also a key tool used to enhance habitat for elk and other habitat. When applied to a forest floor, it manages noxious weeds and restores nutrients triggering the growth of natural grasses and forbs that provide vital nutrition for wildlife.
Some Bureau of Land Management projects are still on schedule but that may change.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a staunch advocate of prescribed burning and provides hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for such projects across the country.
(Photo source: U.S. Forest Service)