Light barely penetrates a dense thicket of balsam fir off the Echo Trail, north of Ely, on August 23, 2013. The Superior National Forest wants to conduct a 1,500 acre prescribed burn in this section of forest along the North Arm of Burntside Lake, an action the agency argues will help prevent future catastrophic fires in the region. (MPR Photo/Dan Kraker)
ELY, Minn. - As catastrophic forest fires burn across the western United States, forest managers in northern Minnesota are laying the groundwork for a deliberate fire in hopes of preventing similar blazes.
Minnesota Public Radio reports they're concerned about the abundance of balsam firs in the thick pine forest north of Ely along the Echo Trail and on the north arm of Burntside Lake, where there are cabins and two YMCA camps.
Balsam firs are highly flammable, and can carry a fire up to the crowns of the taller pines. So the U.S. Forest Service wants to conduct a prescribed burn over 1,400 acres of forest.
Several homeowners question whether the risk of a controlled burn is worth it. They have until the end of September to appeal the Forest Service's decision.
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