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Prescribed pile burning to get started in Rocky Mountain National Park

by April Morganroth, Prairie Mountain Media |

In an effort to prevent another catastrophic summer wildland fire season, the Rocky Mountain National Park fire managers announced last week they plan to take advantage of upcoming wet and wintry conditions with prescribed burns to eliminate fire fuels.

“When fighting the East Troublesome Fire in 2020 and the Fern Lake Fire in 2012, firefighters were able to take advantage of previous and existing prescribed fire and hazardous fuels treatment areas that provided a buffer between the fire and the town of Estes Park,” said Kyle Patterson, public information officer for the Rocky Mountain National Park in a media announcement.

For the last two years park fire crews and contractors have cleared debris to centralized locations until conditions allowed for staggered burning.

Patterson said, “Pile burning operations will begin when conditions allow.” Burning will be areas west of East Portal, west of Deer Mountain, along Bear Creek Road between Sprague Lake and Bierstadt Trailhead and near the Big Thompson Bridge, in the area around Moraine Park Campground, and on the western side of the park along East Inlet Trail.

Prescribed burnings are a way to eliminate accelerants such as dead trees, fallen leaves and dried up plants inhabiting the land.

“The fuels reduction projects are designed to reduce significant accumulations of forest fuels that can generate extreme or problematic fire behavior adjacent to urban interface. By reducing the potential fire behavior the wildland fire risk to firefighters and the public is significantly reduced,” Patterson explained.

These types of measures do not ensure or guarantee fires from burning — they work to mitigate the work, time and manpower needed to do so during an active fire to help slow down and contain a fire before extinguishing it.

According to Patterson, “Safety factors, weather conditions, air quality and other environmental regulations are continually monitored as a part of any fire management operation. Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health.”