GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Smoke may be visible in Mesa County now through March while crews from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management unit burn slash piles generated from multiple Bureau of Land Management fuels reduction projects.

More than 200 slash piles were generated last year from thinning mountain shrubs, pinion pine and juniper to reduce the risk of wildfire. The piles were allowed to dry and are now ready to burn. Firefighters will wait for favorable conditions to ignite the piles and expect to complete the burning in March.

“These fuel reduction projects are key to a fire resilient landscape,” stated UCR Fire Management Officer Thomas Hayes. “During past wildfires, we have seen a decrease in fire spread and intensity directly related to fuels reduction projects.”

The Horsethief Bench project will burn around 100 slash piles 5 miles south of Loma. The Little Dolores project of 85 slash piles is located 20 miles southwest of Grand Junction. The Sand Flats project will burn 15 slash piles about 8 miles south of Whitewater. Project locations are remote, and we do not foresee any smoke issues, but a contingency plan is in place in the event of any visibility issues.

Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information, see

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit (UCR) includes Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service firefighting resources that cover 5.8 million acres along the Interstate 70, Colorado River and Roaring Fork River corridors from the Continental Divide to the Utah state line. The UCR includes the White River National Forest and the BLM’s Colorado River Valley and Grand Junction field offices. The UCR cooperates with other federal and state agencies, local communities, and fire departments on a wide range of activities including fuels treatments, fire prevention, and suppression.