Is that Willard Bay aflame? Well, close. But the Utah Department of Natural Resources says you can move along; nothing to worry about.
Those flames and smoke you may have seen Monday are intentional, a joint effort between the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and its sister agency, the Division of Wildlife Resources, to clean out the invasive Phragmites reed.
That species has infested thousands of acres within the Ogden Bay Wildlife Management Area. Monday's "prescribed fire" targeted 400 acres of the Harold Crane Unit of the area, just to the west of Willard Bay. Smoke from the fire was expected to be visible all along the northern Wasatch Front throughout Monday afternoon.
"Removal of the invasive species will enable the restoration of native wetland plants," stated DNR spokesman Jason Curry. "The objective is to create a more hospitable habitat for waterfowl and a more accessible setting for the public wishing to visit the area."
Curry said a controlled fire was decided to be the best of the options for controlling the reed's spread. Other strategies considered included mechanical removal, livestock grazing and herbicides. Since most of the burn area features water and mud, officials chose fire as the most effective means to attack the reed.