BLM burns likely visible this week |

BLM burns likely visible this week

Aspen Times staff report
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Smoke may be visible as early as this week from much of the Roaring Fork Valley as crews burn slash piles on the area known as the Crown, south of El Jebel.

Firefighters with Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management will burn the dried piles of vegetation, created when an area was cleared last summer around a Pitkin County communications tower site. The tower was installed last spring.

The Bureau of Land Management was a partner in the effort to reduce fire fuels and protect the tower infrastructure. The county cleared oak brush and mountain shrubs; the resulting slash was placed in more than 150 piles and left to dry out.

“Crews working for the county did a great job clearing the brush and shrubs in a mosaic pattern that retains some of the natural clumping,” said BLM fuels specialist Ody Anderson in a press release. “This brings the benefit of greater protection for the communication equipment from wildfire, while improving wildlife habitat and reducing visual impact.”

Firefighters will burn piles when weather conditions are favorable to lift smoke out of the area and when moisture in adjacent vegetation is at acceptable levels to prevent a fire’s spread. Burning could begin as early as this week and potentially continue through March.

Smoke from the Crown will likely be seen for short periods from Carbondale, El Jebel, Basalt and Emma. Drifting smoke could affect homeowners for a short period of time, according to the BLM. Anyone with health conditions who may be affected by short durations of smoke should contact Anderson at (970) 876-9030.

Reducing the continuous stands of brush helps reduce the wildfire threat as well as improve firefighter and public safety. The work also stimulates new growth of grasses, forbs and shrubs that greatly enhances wildlife habitat, according to the BLM.

The piles will be burned under the authority of an approved burn plan and smoke permit, the BLM said.

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