Forest managers work to open roads in fire-ravaged Peavine, Poison Canyons before hunting season begins

As work continues on the Peavine and Poison Canyon fires in the Manti-La Sal National Forest near Monticello and Blanding, Incident Commander John Shaffer and Moab-Monticello District Ranger Mike Diem are mindful that bow hunting season starts Aug. 17 in parts of the forest affected by fire-related road and trail closures.

“We are sensitive to hunters’ needs and the eagerness of someone with a lifetime elk hunting permit to start scouting the places where these prized animals roam,” Diem said. “The incident team is working hard to ensure that forest roads affected by the fire are soon safe for hunters and other users to travel.”

Elk hunting units in the Monticello Ranger District draw hunters from across the nation because this part of the forest has the densest elk population in Utah, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service.

Hunters spend hundreds of nonrefundable dollars to apply for permits drawn by lottery, and some of the roads they drive and trails they hike to reach big game are closed because they’re being used as control lines.

On Monday, Aug. 5, Shaffer flew over the fires by helicopter while acting Incident Commander Matt Way supervised several successful test fire operations designed to consume fuels between the fire interior and existing control lines.

That ground-level work continued Tuesday as a helicopter crew dropped incendiary plastic spherical devices onto pockets of unburned fuels farther from the fire’s secured lines.

“The weather is cooperating with our efforts to safely conduct these activities,” Way said Monday. “With the higher temperatures and lower relative humidity we had Tuesday, the fire is slightly more active—but it’s still a ground fire, and that’s what we want to see. The forecast is for similar conditions to continue.”

The efforts of 88 firefighters and support personnel on both fires allowed containment to rise to 20% on the Poison Canyon fire, while the Peavine Canyon fire containment remained at 20%.

Detailed information about road and trail closures is available on the Manti-La Sal National Forest website at For delivery of email updates, visit the Manti-La Sal National Forest website and sign up in the “Stay Connected!” box.