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8A  Tuesday, July 3, 2012

CORTeZ JOuRNal

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Hoping for scientific approach From Page 1A

JOuRNal/sam GReeN

The hillside behind a house in Weber Canyon is barren after the fire.

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Fire cause still under investigation From Page 1A funds to aid with firefighting costs. Funding is available to cover 75 percent of the state’s eligible firefighting costs for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire. Two days of successful burnouts concluded on Saturday, an effort to increase containment and control of the fire, moving the Weber Fire into the mop-up and patrol stage. Additional burnouts are not planned, according to a news release from the Bureau of Land Management. The burnouts produced significant smoke in the region, as fires were lit to consume excessive fuels in danger of feeding the fire. Part of the firefighting technique during the burnouts was an “aerial ignition” operation. This stage of the fire fight incorporated dropping small ping-pong ball sized fire-starting spheres from helicopters to help the fire burn strategically and slowly downhill into drainages. Using aerial ignition helps protect firefighter safety in

steep terrain, the news release said. La Price said Monday crews were working to stamp out hot spots on the northeast and southern edges of the fire. “The two areas they are concentrating on are areas that still have heat in them,” he said. “Some of that is the result of the burnout operations. They are mopping up in deep canyons that were difficult to get to. The rest is looking pretty good. There are some hot spots showing up here and there on the infrared flights, but those are mostly stumps and rocks that are retaining heat.” The federal Type 2 team took over the blaze on Sunday, June 24. Federal firefighting teams are only assigned to a singular fire for a maximum of 14 days. The Type 2 Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C was on the Weber Fire for a total of nine days. La Price said the success of the Type 2 team is evident in the fact that additional federal teams were not needed to control the Weber

blaze. “The Type 2 team came in and was able to handle this fire,” he said. “They didn’t have to transfer up to a Type 1 team. They accomplished exactly what they came to do and everything went according to plan.” The Type 3 team took over the blaze at 6 p.m. Monday evening. The work now by firefighters is to continue efforts to ensure the fire remains within the established perimeter by strengthening the existing line. Residents and visitors should expect to see intermittent smoke as mop up continues. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the Bureau of Land Management and Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office announced in a joint press release on Thursday that a juvenile has been identified as the potential suspect in the case. No other details were made available by either of the investigating agencies. “There is not any more information right now and there won’t be for a while

due to the nature of the investigation,” Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell said in a phone interview on Thursday. “It’s a highly sensitive thing. That’s all I’ve got right now, and it may be a while before there is anything else.” No injuries have been reported due to the fire. Structure damage has been limited to one outbuilding that was destroyed.

approach for bear management,” Dorsey said. “We’ve got an estimate for the bear population statewide, but unit by unit we don’t have a population estimate. We are moving toward having a better idea and we are utilizing more tools that will give us a better idea of the bears in the local area.” Parks and wildlife utilized web-based surveys to gather initial information from the public on bear management in the area. Once the surveys are collected, management plans will go out to the public for a second round of commenting. Dorsey also said if there is enough interest in the management plan, officials may schedule a public meeting to discuss the new plans. For more information, contact Brad Weinmeister at 970-375-6714.

given us a much better idea of our populations.” In addition to gathering data from teeth, wildlife managers have also begun a DNA data collection study that will allow for even more precise measurement of bear populations. Hair snares have been set in forest locations to collect hair from a variety of bears. The hair is then sent to a lab for DNA analysis. “The DNA sampling allows us to differentiate between bears that are known to us and bears we didn’t know about,” Dorsey said. “We are then able to estimate the population based on percentage of known to unknown.” Officials plan to continue collecting hair samples for three to four more years, allowing for the collection of a substantial data set. Reach Kimberly Benedict “Hopefully we are mov- at kimberlyb@cortezjouring toward a more scientific nal.com.

Reach Kimberly Benedict at kimberlyb@cortezjournal.

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