GRANBY - The U.S. Forest Service will resume slash pile burning following the recent snowstorms, which brought up to six inches of snow to portions of the Sulphur Ranger District in Grand County.
After a nearly six-month hiatus on all prescribed burns throughout Colorado due to extreme fire conditions and intense wildfire activity, weather and burning conditions have moderated, allowing for the ranger district to begin burning slash piles.
Despite the reduced risk, Forest Service managers are moving forward with heightened awareness as safety of the public as well as firefighters remains the top priority of the ranger district and other entities.
Winter Park Resort was expected to begin burning slash piles as early as Saturday, Oct. 27. The resort has numerous piles that were created this past summer in an effort to remove dead and dying trees affected by the bark beetle infestation.
Winter Park Resort's goal for the project was to reduce hazards and promote regeneration of tree islands in the resort. Slash from the project was piled along ski runs and in parking lots and needs to be burned before the ski area opens for the season.
On days the resort plans to conduct burns it must contact East Grand Fire Protection District, Grand County Department of Natural Resources, Grand County Dispatch, the Town of Winter Park and its police department, and the Forest Service.
Ignition of the slash piles can only occur on days when there is adequate snow coverage and the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division has determined that weather conditions are appropriate for burning because smoke dispersal can be achieved.
Piles are ignited as early in the morning as possible and operations cease several hours before sunset. Firefighters will be on site when piles are burned.
The Sulphur Ranger District will also be beginning its seasonal pile burning program in the next several weeks.
An estimated 40,000 piles remain on the district from hazard tree and fuels reduction projects in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, according to the U.S. Forest Service.