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Michelle Tessier, Deseret News
A helicopter ignites a prescribed burn on more than 1,000 acres of state and private land in the Tavaputs Mountains of Carbon County east of Range Valley Mountain Road, Thursday, June 12, 2014.

UINTA RIM, Carbon County — The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands started a fire on purpose Thursday on Carbon County’s Tavaputs Plateau. The goal of burning land overloaded with dead and dying timber is to prevent a bigger, out of control fire later.

“By burning those conifers, we stimulate the growth of the aspen, which benefits the health of the wildlife and it’s also harder to have a catastrophic fire,” said Steve Rutter with the division.

Instead of using ground crews, they used a helicopter or helitorch to light the fire. They wanted to get the crowns or tops of the trees to burn, and there wasn’t enough material on the ground for the fire to go from the bottom to the top.

“We do it under controlled situations, so we don’t have that catastrophic fire and impact the citizens we’re trying to protect,” Rutter said.

This project has been going on in segments for the past few years. Not only will it allow for a healthier forest in the long run, but land officials say it will also benefit wildlife in the area.

“The last time we burned here, we had 8,000 stems or starts per acre of aspen, and the wildlife love it,” Rutter said.

It will take a few years, crews said, for people to really see the benefits.

“It’ll be beautiful and it’ll be lush,” said Jason Johnson with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State lands.