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Prescribed burns, both on public and private lands protect against wildfires. Courtesy photo.

The smoke visible today in the peaks and canyons northwest of Poncha Springs in Chaffee County this week is not an emergency. The U.S. Forest Service is finishing up the Mount Shavano Prescribed Fire Project that started back in 2014. They are burning the remaining 930 acres in the two remaining project areas this week.

Today, residents should expect that the burn will include an area north of Maysville and west of Droney Gulch State Wildlife Area. It should take two to three days to complete.

Expect that smoke from the prescribed burn will be more visible during midday during warmer temperatures, and die down in the cooler evenings.

Prescribed fire helps to create various stages of plant succession, which is critical to the health of fire-adapted ecosystems, ultimately reducing the risk of major wildfires.

For those tracking such things, the burning is being done to reduce long-term fire risk and is being done with a combination of hand lighting and helicopter aerial ignition. There is no need to report the smoke coming from this area. The Chaffee Fire and Rescue District, the Forest Service, the Salida Fire Department, Envision Chaffee County and even the Chaffee County Public Health Department are aware of and monitoring the burn for safety and air quality.

Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information, visit the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division’s website: