The Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest plans to conduct a prescribed burn in the Aldrich Lakes area beginning Sunday. The 1200 acre prescribed fire site is about 19 miles northeast of Meeker and 19 miles south of Craig, on National Forest System lands and next to private lands in Rio Blanco County. Officials expect to be burning for a few days. Crews plan to begin hand ignition Sunday, followed by aerial ignition Monday. Dates will depend upon the weather and availability of resources. Officials have chosen target dates between September 27 and October 9 to minimize the impact on hunters in the Aldrich Lakes area. The prescribed fire will improve wildlife habitat on the site by stimulating new and more nutritious plant production in the burned area. The fire is expected to leave a patchwork of burned and unburned areas, providing wildlife with better forage while leaving enough vegetation to provide cover. Past suppression efforts have kept fire from this area for a number of years, resulting in a large buildup of fuels. This burn will target Gambel oak and mountain shrub species to decrease the fuel load in the area and reduce wildfire potential. Smoke from the operations may be visible from areas near Meeker and Craig.