Pile burns scheduled at Mesa Verde to remove hazard fuels

Mesa Verde National Park fire management staff plans to implement three pile burns throughout the park. The burns will take place on Chapin Mesa with one large pile near the "four-way intersection" in the vicinity of park headquarters, one large pile near the Morefield sewer lagoons in Morefield canyon and fifty small piles near the park entrance. The objective of both of these burns is to consume the existing accumulation of woody material from past fuel reduction projects.

The piles consist of branches and brush generated from maintaining defensible space around park buildings during the past summer. Fire crews removed encroaching vegetation in order to aid in the management of wildland fires and also to help the structural fire crew in its efforts to protect park buildings. The project followed guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association's "Firewise Communities" program, and was developed and funded through the Wildland Urban Interface Initiative in cooperation with the National Fire Plan.

The removal of hazard fuels should help protect structures in the event of a nearby wildland fire. Protection of structures is a very important aspect of fire management at Mesa Verde. It is estimated that it will take two to three days to complete ignition and clean-up operations of the piles.

Smoke impacts for all three projects are expected to be minimal. However, visitors to the park may encounter smoke on the roadway during the Chapin Mesa pile burn and near the park entrance. Please drive carefully and watch for fire personnel, vehicles, and warning signs in the vicinity of the project.

Fire managers plan to light the piles during the month of January or February. The burns will only take place when weather and smoke dispersal parameters are met. For further information concerning these burns, please contact Keith Krause at 970-529-5062 or Steve Underwood, Fire Management Officer at 970-529-5049.

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