Warmer weather is allowing the Bitterroot National Forest to continue it's spring prescribed burning program.

Forest spokesman Tod McKay said Monday afternoon that three prescribed burns totaling nearly 300 acres will begin on Tuesday, May 7.

"The first one is planned for Tuesday on the Stevensville Ranger District," McKay said. "Crews will be burning a 27-acre unit just above the Bear Creek Trail. Folks who are driving on U.S. 93 looking west will see some smoke on Tuesday afternoon. The fire crew in Darby is planning a burn north of Darby and west of Charlo Heights, and that burn is about 115 acres"

McKay said prescribed burns perform an important function for the national forests.

"Number one, it maintains the forest health and ecosystem restoration," McKay said. "It improves wildlife habitat, in that there are lots of plants and different shrubs that respond well to fire. But, probably the most important thing is it reduces the potential of large, high-intensity wildfires by eliminating some of the downed fuel on the ground, while enhancing habitat for deer and elk."

McKay said forest officials conduct the prescribed burns in the spring and fall to reduce fuels for the hot summer months.He advised those who see plumes of smoke in the forest to realize they are prescribed burns, and not to be alarmed.

Bitterroot National Forest Spokesman Tod McKay