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Winter conditions mark start of slash burning season

Winter conditions mark start of slash burning season

As winter conditions settle in across Colorado’s northern Front Range, the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests will work to burn slash piles resulting from fuels reduction and hazardous tree removal projects across the area. This season’s pile burning could begin as soon as Jan. 5, 2021, and will continue through the spring, depending on weather and fuels conditions.

Fuels reduction programs involve mechanical or hand thinning projects, removing trees to reduce forest density and improve forest health. While larger logs are removed for use, unmarketable limbs, saplings, and brush are piled up for burning. Hand piles result from crews using chainsaws to thin the forest and then piling the sawn material; machine piles result from using logging equipment and primarily consist of tree limbs left behind after marketable material is removed.

Piles are only ignited when fuels managers are confident that the project can be undertaken safely and successfully. Snow cover, fuel moisture, precipitation, wind, temperature, and available firefighter staffing are all considered before beginning a pile burn. Piles which are ready for burning are prioritized based on elevation, aspect, access, and proximity to homes. Smoke, flames, and glowing embers are often visible, and are a normal part of pile burning operations. Snow helps contain the piles and firefighters monitor the area during and after the burn. Public and firefighter safety is always the number-one priority in burning operations.

Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health; for more information see http://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health/.

To get the latest updates on when and where burning will occur, follow us on Twitter and Facebook @usfsarp. For a complete list of locations where burning will occur this season, visit our InciWeb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4648.