REEDSPORT, Ore. - Firefighters set pastures frequented by dozens of Roosevelt elk on fire this week - on purpose.
The Bureau of Land Management is conducting controlled pasture burns at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area Wednesday and Thursday.
This annual effort is intended to improve grazing conditions for the 80 to 100 Roosevelt elk who use this pasture as their salad bar.
"The elk are really neat animals to have here, to be able to stop and watch and see. And we try to do everything we can to keep them here because they are not contained, they are not fenced in," said Megan Harper, Public Affairs Specialist with the BLM. "So if we didn't create a good habitat for them, it's likely they would go somewhere else."
BLM wants to clear out the current grass and clear the way for better quality forage to grow in after the burn.
Harper said the most frequently asked question is why BLM burns the grass instead of mowing it or bundling it for hay?
"It's just such low quality that hardly anything will eat it," she said. "Horses, cows don't like it. So we figure it's best just to go ahead and burn it and then start fresh and get the more palatable grasses in."
Depending on the weather, the prescribed burning at Dean Creek should only last two days.
Once the burn is complete, BLM said it should take about a week for the lush grass to grow back.
BLM said motorists on Highway 38 should expect occasional traffic delays and use caution.