Prescribed burn planned at ruins of St. Thomas town site at Lake Mead

First came the flood, then came the fire.

The National Park Service announced Thursday that the ruins of St. Thomas will be closed to the public later this month for a prescribed fire at the historic town site once swallowed by Lake Mead.

The 8-acre fire is needed to clear away invasive tamarisk plants that are choking access to the site.

The prescribed burn is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 17, weather permitting.

Historic foundations and tree stumps will be protected, and the burn will be monitored by resource management staff to ensure no nesting threatened or endangered birds are present.

Park officials said visitors near the area, especially along Northshore Road, might see smoke during the burn.

The farming town of St. Thomas was founded by Mormon settlers in the late 1800s.

The federal government bought out the Muddy River community in the early 1930s, as work was beginning on Hoover Dam. The empty town site disappeared beneath the rising waters of Lake Mead in 1938.

The remains of St. Thomas have reemerged periodically in the decades since, as the reservoir drained and filled.

The site has been high and dry since 2003, when record drought took hold in the mountains that feed the Colorado River.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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