Toponce wildlife habitat

Firefighters work a prescribed burn in Toponce Basin near Chesterfield.

The Westside Ranger District will begin prescribed fire operations this fall starting as early as Friday and continuing through December depending on weather conditions. Approximately 150-acres will be treated in the Toponce area, approximately 5 miles east of Pocatello. Firefighters will target isolated pockets of aspen that failed to burn during spring operations. The broadcast burn is scheduled for the East Hills of the Toponce Basin off FS Road 375 west of Chesterfield, Idaho. As in previous years, smoke may be visible to nearby communities, such as Chesterfield and Bancroft, as well as public recreating in the area.

The proposed burns are part of the forest service’s ongoing multi-year projects to improve wildlife habitat and manage forest fuels.

“Aspen and fire have a symbiotic relationship,” said Arik Jorgensen, assistant fire management officer for fuels. “After a ground disturbance activity, such as fire, aspen growth and resiliency increases, which creates a more diverse landscape and healthier habitat for wildlife.”

Fire managers pursue prescribed fire operations in the fall when ground moistures are high and fire danger is low, where they can control the pace at which they ignite fuels, and carefully consider current and predicted weather during implementation. By proactively managing forest fuels, fire managers are attempting to mitigate the future risk of prolonged smoke events from high-intensity wildfires and create healthier and resilient landscapes.

Approximately 20-acres of pile burning will also continue around the Nordic Center just south of Pocatello. Ignition of those piles will be weather-dependent and occur once the snow begins to fall. Crews anticipate burning in the middle of November through December. Smoke is typically visible for one day from Pocatello.

If weather conditions do not allow for ignition, the Forest Service will continue to monitor for an extended clear weather pattern that will meet the combination of fuel moisture, temperature, wind and smoke dispersal conditions necessary for a successful prescribed burn.

For more information, visit or contact the Westside Ranger District office at 208-236-7500.