Gunnison, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management’s Gunnison Field Office plans to begin burning slash piles for two hazardous fuels reduction projects as early as Wednesday, November 20, or as conditions allow. One of the project sites is on BLM-managed lands near the Blue Mesa subdivision. This project is a continuation of pile burns that was initiated last winter. The Blue Mesa project site is 40 acres in size and includes 100 piles. The other project site is located on BLM-managed lands near Crystal Creek, approximately seven miles south of Powderhorn, Colo. The Crystal Creek project site is 25 acres in size and includes 100 piles. Each project is expected to be completed within one to two days of initiation.
An environmental analysis and detailed burn plan outline the parameters for burning piles of mixed conifer vegetation. “The burn plan contains specific criteria regarding weather conditions and air quality that must be met to help ensure control of the burn as well as to minimize the potential smoke impacts to local communities,” said Mike Davis, BLM Fire Management Officer. “Fire crews will monitor burn piles following ignition to ensure public safety.”
The BLM has obtained a Smoke Permit which identifies atmospheric conditions under which the burn can be implemented from the Colorado State Air Pollution Control Division for this project. While smoke may be visible in the area at times during the pile burning, most of the smoke will lift and dissipate during the warmest part of the day. Some smoke may linger over the area and in drainages as temperatures drop during the evening.
“Pile burns are generally conducted during the winter and spring; when there is sufficient snow on the ground to ensure that conditions are safe to conduct the burn,” said Chris Barth, BLM Southwest District Fire Mitigation Specialist. “Prescribed fires – including pile burns – help to reduce wildfire risk to communities, help restore and maintain ecosystem health, and achieve specific resource objectives such as habitat improvement and fuels reduction.”
The Southwest District Fire Management program covers the BLM Colorado’s Southwest District and the Gunnison Field Office (BLM), the Uncompahgre Field Office (BLM), and Tres Rios Field Office (BLM) in the Colorado counties of Archuleta, Conejos, Delta, Dolores, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Mineral, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Rio Grande, Saguache, San Juan and San Miguel.