[Photo by Mickey Smith / Courtesy of the Manti-La Sal National Forest]

The first day of a prescribed burn in the Lackey Basin of the southern La Sal Mountains went off as planned on Saturday, June 18, the Manti-La Sal National Forest said this week.

The burn aims to restore aspen stands on 500 acres within a 1,400-acre area near the town of La Sal by mimicking natural disturbance, reducing the number of conifers and promoting new growth in aspen stands.

The Forest Service says that wildlife species such as mule deer, elk and raptors will benefit from renewed growth and more open, grassy areas. Habitat for other species of concern will be enhanced as well, and the potential for catastrophic wildfire in a watershed will be reduced, the agency says.

Fire crews will monitor the burned area for the next several weeks, or until the burn is extinguished.

The burn was the first of several treatments planned in future for the Lackey Basin area. It was a cooperative effort including the Manti-La Sal National Forest, Canyon Country District BLM, and other partners such as the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative.