Forest Service conducting controlled burns in Cooper Landing and Moose Pass

Oct 21, 2021

Dead spruce trees behind KPC.
Credit Mitch Michaud

You might see smoke coming from parts of the Chugach National Forest this week and next.

But it’s no cause for alarm. The Forest Service said it’s burning slash piles in Cooper Landing and Moose Pass, partly in an effort to mitigate the local spruce bark beetle problem.

“Currently, we have about 35 acres worth of piled material," said Tim Spencer, a zone fire management officer for the service’s Seward Ranger District. “Mostly what we call slash, leftover from various vegetation tree cutting projects.”

The Forest Service has been cutting down trees at the Russian River Campground to make sure those within striking distance of campground facilities don’t fall onto campers, particularly as they are weakened by bark beetles.

That wood is part of the prescribed burn. But the Forest Service also puts aside some of those logs for firewood.

Spruce bark beetles are front of mind for the service as it puts aside firewood, too. It quarantines logs before they’re available for pick up to make sure they’re not carrying any beetle larvae.

Spencer said the service hopes to begin burning as early as Thursday, as long as there’s no driving rain or wind.

He said smoke might be visible from several trailheads, including the Devil’s Pass Trailhead and Russian River Campground. But, “For most folks, they won’t see much from the highway, other than, if all is going well, what’s going to look like multiple campfires with plumes of smoke rising," he said.

With fire season in the rearview mirror, Spencer said now is generally a good time for property owners to burn brush and get rid of bark beetle trees in their backyards.