Burns scheduled at Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park fire management staff plans to implement three pile burns throughout the park in January and February.

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 50 small piles near the park entrance. The objective of these burns is to consume the existing accumulation of woody material from past fuel reduction projects.

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.

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.

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.

Comments sought on livestock plan

The National Park Service is looking for public comment on ways to protect native vegetation and cultural resources from cattle and horses that trespass in the 52,000-acre preserve.

Among alternatives are methods of keeping livestock out of the park, returning them to the owner or selling them at auction.

"Livestock has been documented out-competing native wildlife for water, damaging facilities and creating confrontations with park staff and visitors," Betty Lieurance, a park spokeswoman, said in a statement.

There are currently 100 to 150 horses in the park and on its borders, Lieurance said. Ten to 20 head of cattle roam the park at a given time, she said.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed plan to reduce threats to natural and cultural resources, people and facilities.

Public comment is welcomed during drafting of the plan, now under way, and again after the release of the environmental assessment being done as required by the National Environmental Protection Act.

People who comment should be aware that information identifying them may be made public.

First-phase comment must be received by Feb. 28. Comment may be made at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/meve or mailed to Trespass Livestock Management Plan, P.O. Box 8, Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330.