Delta, Colorado, Nov. 4, 2022 – Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests will be looking for an opportunity to initiate the burning of slash piles over the next few months. The slash piles are the result of multiple timber sales, fuels reductions and hazardous tree removal projects. Pile burning will begin as early as November when there is sufficient snow or rain present to prevent fire spread and will continue as long as conditions allow.
Slash piles have been created to remove debris and vegetation (fuels) to help reduce the risk of larger wildfires. The piles are burned in project areas where other means of disposal were not feasible. Forest thinning projects improve forest health and wildlife habitat and reduce the risk of wildfire near private residences and other infrastructure. Implementing prescribed fire is a critical part of reducing the risk of wildfire to communities and improving forest health conditions.
The public is reminded not to call 911 or emergency services if smoke is visible in specific burn areas. Slash piles areas and possible dates will be posted on the GMUG Fire Info Facebook page.
Prescribed fire is only implemented under very specific environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed, relative humidity, smoke dispersion). Prescribed fires are conducted by trained fire managers with a strong understanding of fire behavior and years of on-the-ground experience. These prescribed burns will only be implemented when pre-identified firefighting resources are available to support safe operations. Fire managers will staff the fire until it is deemed secure and patrol the prescribed fire until it is declared out.
The safety of firefighters and the public are the most important factors considered when planning prescribed fires. Burning will only occur when all conditions of the state-issued smoke permit are met. Learn how smoke from wildfires, prescribed burns and pile burns may affect your health by visiting the Colorado Department of Public Health website https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.
The USDA Forest Service has recently completed a 90-day nationwide operational pause and program review of protocols, decision support tools and practices related to the implementation of prescribed fire. This pause has allowed us time to identify and immediately implement program improvements to ensure firefighters have the resources, tools and support needed to safely carry out this important work. The lessons we’ve learned, driven by the best available science, will be implemented before we resume our prescribed fire program.
For more information on current fire restrictions, conditions and recreation opportunities, visit the forest website or www.westslopefireinformation.com. Connect with us or follow us on social media (Twitter and Facebook).