GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management today lifted the closure to the area burned by the 2012 Pine Ridge Fire after evaluating the success of the rehabilitation.
The closure was written to continue through January 2015, but is now lifted sooner based on, on-the-ground conditions.
The Pine Ridge Fire burned nearly 14,000 acres west of DeBeque in June 2012. The high-intensity fire removed soil-stabilizing plants, making the area susceptible to wind and water erosion. Erosion posed a serious threat to water quality on the Colorado River. The loss of native vegetation also increased the possibility of invasive weed intrusion.
“Getting plants established to stabilize the soil was absolutely critical to the ecosystem,” said Grand Junction Associate Field Manager, Wayne Werkmeister. “Any disturbance during the sensitive germination and plant establishment stage could have caused far-reaching damage.” Werkmeister added that public cooperation with the closure and incredible rainfall over the last year helped ensure seedling success. “We took the closure very seriously and only made that decision because of the significant and long-term damage that was possible. We’re glad to re-open the area as soon as possible, especially with hunting season approaching.”
Two seeding operations took place during the fire rehabilitation. The BLM seeded with a sterile annual wheatgrass was seeded for initial stabilization, then used followed by a perennial mix to establish stable plant communities and reduce the threat of undesirable species.
The public can immediately return to lawful use of public lands impacted by the Pine Ridge Fire. Although plant communities in the area are thriving, seedlings are fragile while root systems are establishing and plants are maturing. Motorized travel in the burn area is limited to established designated routes.
The lightning-ignited Pine Ridge Fire burned 13,920 acres northeast of Grand Junction between June 27 and July 4, 2012.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.