Grand County sets April 25 as last day to burn slash | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County sets April 25 as last day to burn slash

Katie Looby
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Relief is in sight for Winter Park residents who say smoke is a “nuisance” and bad for their health ” slash burning is scheduled to last only eight more days.

Usually the burning season stretches from mid- to late-November ” once there is “sufficient-permanent” snow on ground ” to April 1, according to Jennifer Murray, Foreman of the Grand County Division of Natural Resources.

This year the burning season was extended because of the amount of snow still on the ground. The season end date is set for April 25. With the warm weather, it is unlikely it will be extended any longer, she said.

The end date is county-wide, she said.

As the logging at Grand Park has gotten closer to Winter Park, some residents have complained about the smoke, Murray said.

“(Grand Park’s) location is very close to downtown Winter Park,” she said. “It’s just that the smoke can still be concentrated down and around their homes and subdivisions” as winds push smoke into the end of the valley.

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Despite complaints, Grand Park’s effort in creating a healthy forest will benefit everyone in the long run, Murray said.

“In the meantime, we have to deal with the smoke from the pile burning they have to do,” she added.

The developer met with the Grand County Public Health Department to determine the best way to deal with area residents’ health problems.

Murray said a list of people with health issues will be notified when burning occurs. They can then stay inside and keep their windows closed or leave the area.

Grand Park President Clark Lipscomb told the Winter Park Town Council on Tuesday about the burning they have to do.

“We’re proactively going after this pine beetle problem,” Lipscomb told the Council. “I have yet to hear people say, ‘We’re getting smoked out’ or ‘Why are you burning down these dead trees.”

Council members said they favor the project.

“It’s better to be proactive than have nature burn our whole town down,” said Winter Park Mayor Jim Myers. “There’s always going to be people that don’t like the smoke.”

Lipscomb said the development has logged 400 acres of its 1,700 acre property in effort to log “the pine beetle out.” About 1,200 acres of the property is forested land.

The dead trees are a liability, he said. Cutting them down limits out-of-control fire space and creates defensive space, he said.

“We have been hard at it for over two years,” Lipscomb said. “What we’re effectively doing is creating a nice big fire break and buffer.”

It will take about two more years to finish logging the property,” he said.

Workers previously logged the north and west portion of Grand Park. They have now moved to the south and east sides, which are closer to the Winter Park, he said.

While logs are shipped away, “slash piles” need to be burned.

“When you create these small piles … you utilize your ground very quickly,” Lipscomb said.

He said the goal is to keep burning as long as possible.

“We’re making good progress,” he said. “It’s ultimately going to be a big benefit to everybody in the area.

“We have a big undertaking and are aggressively getting it done.”

So far, he said the development has spent nearly $2 million on the project, and is only half done.

“We plant a lot of trees,” he said. “It looks a lot better than the dead trees.”

Lipscomb said the price of diesel is making the project more costly because all of the equipment runs on it.

“This forest is a tinder box, and the best thing to do is to cut it down.”

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