It’s not a wildfire–Air Force clearing vegetation on the test range

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (ABC4 News) – You might be seeing a lot of smoke west of the Great Salt Lake in the last few days. It will be a fire, but it’s not a wildfire. The U.S. Air Force is doing a prescribed burn on the Utah Test and Training Range’s North Range.

The burn will take place Oct. 19-23.

The UTTR section where the burn will be is located North of Interstate I-80 between Wendover and Tooele. Travelers driving on I-80, near Exit 62, may notice the fire and smoke.

According to a press release sent by the USAF, the burn is so the Air Force can “remove cheatgrass, tumbleweed and other invasive species that are overtaking water, nutrients, space, and sunlight from the native vegetation.”

“Cheatgrass and tumbleweed also create hazardous fuel for wildland fires, making them difficult to control in the area during the dry summer months”, said Russ Lawrence, manager of Hill AFB’s Natural Resource Program.

“The burn area is approximately 500 acres,” Lawrence said. “This is nearby where we did an aerial spray this week of approximately 600 acres. We have found a combination of spraying and burning is the best approach to remove the invasive species.”

Last year the Air Force tried to do the same kind of work in the area, but weather conditions prevented the burn from being completed. They did burn 60 acres. A few years earlier some of the lands were successfully burned and sprayed. The sections have been reseeded.

“We hope to reseed this new burned and sprayed section next year with a diverse mix of vegetation that is more fire-resistant to create a tactical fire break,” Lawrence said. “This will help us safely manage any wildland fires before they can get out of control.”

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