With snow providing favorable conditions for prescribed burning, people in northwestern Nebraska may notice more plumes of smoke rising from forest areas in coming weeks.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is planning to incinerate tree piles at Chadron State Park and several wildlife management areas.
Although an exact date for the park hasn’t been set, Superintendent Gregg Galbraith expects the burning to get underway sometime this week.
Greg Schenbeck, an area manager for the Commission, said efforts to burn dozens of piles at area WMAs are progressing. Sites with piles remaining to be burned this winter include Gilbert-Baker WMA near Harrison, Metcalf WMA near Hay Springs and Ponderosa WMA near Crawford. Commission staff wrapped up burning at Bighorn WMA near Crawford in recent weeks.
Commission officials say tree pile burning is an important part of fuels reduction in the Pine Ridge following thinning. The trees are removed from the forest to reduce potential fuels for wildfires and create a more sustainable ponderosa pine habitat for wildlife. Some of the piles were created from scorched trees from the 2012 wildfires – many of them which posed a hazard of falling on fences, powerlines and other structures.