The Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland took full advantage of snow conditions winter 2013-2014 to burn nearly 22,000 slash piles left from multiple fuels reductions and hazardous tree removal projects.

Dedicated fuels implementation specialists, along with fire staff, conducted these pile burns under detailed conditions laid out in a burn plan. These burns are also done under a smoke permit from the State of Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. Conditions are evaluated each day of a potential pile burn and include weather, smoke dispersal, staffing and snow cover. Crews also conduct a test burn to ensure conditions are adequate.

Eight times this winter burns were cancelled either before or just after a test fire, an example of how diligent our firefighters are and how closely they monitor each burn.

Crews burned as many as 250 to 1,000 smaller hand piles a day at each burn location when conditions were met, which includes a minimum of three inches of snow cover. Some areas of the district also have larger machine piles. Typically, one to 40 of these were burned at each location a day with a minimum of six inches of snow cover.

Snow this season and the location of piles benefited the district’s ability to tackle the many piles on the landscape. Last year’s lower snow total led the district to accomplish nearly 6,000 piles burned, highlighting the great accomplishment this winter.

Next season there will be another approximately 20,000 piles available for crews to ignite, many in the same areas as this year. Information is posted annually online at www.fs.usda.gov/arp/clrdrxfire. The district also regularly updates a recorded phone line with pile burning information at 970-498-1030.

For those wanting regular updates, individuals can get on an email list for the areas that interest them the most by sending an email to rcloudman@fs.fed.us.

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