FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Two state departments are planning up to six prescribed burns in Interior Alaska to benefit wildlife and to reduce the risk of less manageable fires in the future.
The Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Natural Resources hope to ignite three small burns on Nenana Ridge and three larger fires on the Tanana Flats, along the Robertson River and north of Tanacross near Wolf Lake.
The Nenana Ridge fires would cover 20-30 acres parcels in an area 30 miles west of Fairbanks. They are planned for mid-May before new leaves come out.
The western Tanana Flats fire has been planned for several years. The plan calls for burning up to 100,000 acres over five years between the Totatlanika, Tanana and Wood rivers north of the Rex Trail.
Two wild fires last summer covered more than 200,000 acres on the western and central flats but nearly half the acreage within the fire perimeters did not burn.
A draft plan to burn about 400,000 acres within the Robertson River drainage between Delta and Tok is under review and could be approved in time for a fire this summer. The fire is designed to increase the diversity of vegetation and allow new plants to grow in two forested valleys about 10 miles south of Dot Lake.
Also, 16,000-acres north of Tanacross near Wolf Lake have been identified for a fire to manage wildlife habitat on Native and adjacent state lands.
The Tanacross Village Council and the Bureau of Land Management obtained grants to thin out trees near the village last year to reduce the risk of fire near the community. More trees will be thinned this year. The burn plan could be completed by late summer.
The Department of Fish and Game is providing much of the funding for the fires from a five-year capital improvement project designated for wildlife habitat improvement.
Protecting nearby cabins and keeping smoke out of populated areas are priorities for the agencies, according to the departments.
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