Prescribed burns are continuing in the San Juan National Forest near Bayfield.
Fires were started Sept. 8 in the Saul's Creek area, burning about 2,500 acres, and are now completed in that area, said Gretchen Fitzgerald, public affairs officer for the San Juan National Forest office.
Prescribed burns were started in the Yellow Jacket area on Sept. 13 in Lange Canyon, just east of the Archuleta County line.
"They will be black lining today and tomorrow and then will conduct aerial ignitions in the interior at the end of the week," Fitzgerald said on Thursday.
Areas selected for burns are low-elevation forests consisting of ponderosa pine, Gambel oak and grass.
The prescribed burns will reduce forest fuels, reduce the potential for severe wildfires, improve wildlife habitat and maintain forest ecosystems, according to federal officials.
The burns will be completed as weather and fuel conditions permit.
San Juan National Forest officials said they will work to manage conditions to minimize smoke near populated areas.
Burning operations could continue throughout October, weather permitting.
Working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the San Juan Forest will conduct the burns under air-quality guidelines to reduce the impacts on populated areas.
Portable air-quality monitors have been installed near the eastern edge of Bayfield, as well as a couple locations farther east near Highway 160.
Burning will be conducted under wind conditions that move smoke away from Durango and Bayfield, toward the interior portions of the San Juan National Forest, north and northwest of Pagosa Springs.
A meteorologist with a specialty in smoke from wildland fires will be in the area and will be in contact with San Juan fire management personnel and Colorado air-quality officials.
Should any sensitive area become heavily impacted with smoke overnight, burning will be dramatically curtailed the next day, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service.