SILT, Colorado - Smoke may be visible in the Roaring Fork Valley this week as federal fire crews begin burning slash piles from earlier fuel reduction projects.
When conditions become ideal this winter, crews will be burning about 1,400 slash piles on Light Hill near Emma, and north of Carbondale near the intersections of Garfield County Roads 103 and 112.
"We need to have enough snow on the ground for safe pile burning operations, combined with weather conditions favorable for lifting smoke out of the area," said Rusty Stark, fuels specialist with the Bureau of Land Management's Colorado River Valley Field Office.
Smoke will likely be seen for short periods near these areas and from Highway 82 on days crews burn. Some drifting smoke could affect residents. Anyone with health conditions that may be affected by short durations of smoke should contact Stark at 876-9030.
The slash piles resulted from BLM projects designed to help protect communities from wildfire and improve firefighter and public safety.
"A primary goal of these fuel reduction projects is to reduce the risk of a wildfire burning from public lands onto private land and threatening property in the area," Stark said.
Over the past several summers, fire crews have reduced "ladder fuels" in these areas that can carry a fire into the canopy, by thinning trees and removing limbs lower than three to four feet from the ground. Dead and downed materials were cut as well.
Cut material was piled for burning in winter months. Crews expect to complete the pile burning this winter.