The history of Deer Haven

The 4,900-acre Deer Haven parcel northwest of Canon City was donated to the BLM by the Mellon Foundation through the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1992. Both organizations worked together to fund the purchase of Deer Haven before donating the lands to BLM. Deer Haven features riparian and wetland habitats, with many different types of wildlife. The area also features hiking, biking, hunting, and horseback riding. The area also serves as a location to implement different vegetation management practices, rangeland and grazing management, forestry, and wildlife habitat projects. Specifically for the fuels and fire programs, this area has served as a focal area for prescribed fires and mechanical treatments.

Several people in firefighter uniforms lighting grasses on fire for fuels reductions.
The Rio Grande National Forest Mod 6-1 conducting prescribed burns for the Deer Haven burn in October 2023.

Soon after the parcel was acquired, vegetation management at Deer Haven began with several treatments on a smaller scale. Most of those early treatments were driven by the wildlife program with the main objective being to improve habitat for wildlife, especially big game species. These projects were funded and supported by our partners including Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Those initial vegetation treatments paved the way for numerous other treatment efforts in several different areas throughout the parcel. There has been more than 1,800 acres treated by several different programs including fuels, forestry, and range, weeds, and wildlife.  These treatments have included hand thinning, piling and pile burning, mechanical treatments/material removal, chemical, and more recently, prescribed fire.

A firetruck engine on a grassy landscape.
An engine from Colorado's Division of Fire Prevention and Control assisting with the Deer Haven burn.

The Deer Haven prescribed burn was completed in 2023. This burn provided an excellent opportunity for us to work with other state and federal agencies, along with city and local fire organizations. The BLM utilized resources form Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, U.S. Forest Service modules, the Pike Interagency Hot Shot Crew, Canon City Fire Department, and the Tallahassee Volunteer Fire Department. Being able to pull in resources from a variety of different cooperators provided excellent training opportunities and the ability to collaborate and learn from each other.

Funding provided from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allowed us to extend our seasonal fire workforce for additional pay periods beyond the end of fiscal year. This allowed us to have the skilled and qualified resources to complete the final heavy lift that was needed to finish the final preparations including hand line, mow line, and other holding features. During the burn, BLM was able to utilize many different resources from our partners on this project for more efficient burning and holding. The BLM was also able to fund agreements to acquire supplies, equipment, and personnel as needed.

A fire engine and several people conducting a prescribed burn.
BLM's Engine 4652 and Colorado's Division of Fire Prevention and Control worked side by side to complete the prescribed burn.

Overall, 350 acres were treated in two days of burning and two weeks of holding. This burn has set the stage for hundreds of acres of additional burn projects and has overall reduced the risk of wildfire, improved forest health, wildlife habitat, and overall rangeland and ecological conditions. This is part of a plan that will allow Deer Haven to be a place for the public to enjoy for many generations to come. 

Glenda Torres, Natural Resource Specialist (Fuels Reduction)