A spruce tree showing heavy damage from spruce bark beetles stands on Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ben Boetttger/Peninsula Clarion file)

A spruce tree showing heavy damage from spruce bark beetles stands on Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ben Boetttger/Peninsula Clarion file)

Prescribed burning scheduled for Moose Pass, Cooper Landing

The burning is intended to mitigate the spread of spruce bark beetles.

If you see smoke on the highway corridors near Moose Pass and Cooper Landing between today and the end of the month, don’t panic. The Chugach National Forest’s fire management will be conducting prescribed burning across 35 acres through the end of October, according to a release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The burning is intended to mitigate the spread of spruce bark beetles. Trees infected with beetles pose an increased wildfire risk. The Forest Service will burn slash piles that are the result of hazard tree mitigation and other vegetation management projects.

Reducing the wildfire risks, the Forest Service said, will help reduce the risks to communities and infrastructure adjacent to national forest and private lands. A release from the agency also said that fire management personnel will monitor local environmental conditions and work with the National Weather Service to carry out the burning when smoke will be dispersed more quickly. Those efforts will helm minimize the impact of resulting smoke to firefighters, members of the public, residential areas and highway corridors.

The Forest Service is encouraging drivers to “exercise caution” along the highway corridors when residual smoke is present, especially in the late evenings and early mornings.

The Forest Service estimates that residual smoke from the burning efforts may be seen near the Devil’s Pass Trailhead, the Carter Lake Trailhead, Quartz Creek, Broadview Guard Station and the Russian River Campground. Those sites are located between Mile 35 and Mile 53 of the Sterling Highway.

More information about the burning efforts can be found on the Chugach National Forest website at fs.usda.gov/chugach.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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