Tunnel Hill pile burning begins in Winter Park area | SkyHiNews.com

Tunnel Hill pile burning begins in Winter Park area

Smoke rises from slash piles on Tunnel Hill between Winter Park and Winter Park Resort on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The U.S. Forest Service has an estimated 20,000 piles to burn in the 400-acre area. Burning is expected to continue through the end of the year as conditions permit.
Byron Hetzler/bhetzler@skyhidailynews.com | Sky-Hi News

WINTER PARK – The U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District may burn hand-piled slash on Tunnel Hill as weather allows beginning this week of Nov. 5 and continuing through the end of the year. Tunnel Hill is located on U.S. Highway 40 between the Town of Winter Park and Winter Park Resort. Email announcements will be sent on the morning of each possible burn day. Pile burning will be conducted by a team of U.S. Forest Service firefighters. Burning will occur when there is a minimum of 3 inches of snow on the ground in that area and when predicted atmospheric conditions are ideal for smoke dispersal. Due to the prominence of Tunnel Hill, flames and heavy smoke could be visible on burn days. Forest Service personnel will closely monitor air quality and the burn area perimeter. Firefighter and public safety will be the first priority. To that end, an area closure including roads, trails and other uses will be in effect on Tunnel Hill, from Little Vasquez Road east to the railroad tracks, until burning is complete for the season.

Residents of the Fraser Valley may be impacted by smoke, especially in the evening and early morning. Smoke sensitive residents will need to plan accordingly on burn days. The U.S. Forest Service has installed three particulate monitors in strategic locations around the Fraser Valley and will review results daily. Burning operations will be adaptive to maintain air quality standards set by the EPA.

About the project

The 400-acre Tunnel Hill Fuels Reduction Project is creating a critical fuels break, protecting infrastructure and reducing the potential impact of wildfire on communities and watersheds. Funded in large part by Denver Water’s Forest to Faucets program, the project reduced thick stands of lodgepole pine growing on the hillsides between Winter Park’s residential and business communities and the ski area. Due to steep terrain, the wood could not be removed, creating an estimated 20,000 piles. The fuels reduction project is not complete until the piles are burned.

To reduce the number of days that local communities are impacted by smoke from pile burning on Tunnel Hill, the U.S. Forest Service has obtained a non-traditional smoke permit from the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. Through this pilot program U.S. Forest Service plans to burn between 1,000-4,000 piles per day on Tunnel Hill. Under a traditional smoke permit, the state would limit pile burning on excellent smoke dispersal days to 250 piles. At that rate it would take many years for the Forest Service to complete the project. By working closely with state air quality regulators, the Forest Service hopes to burn more than half of the piles on Tunnel Hill in just seven to 10 burn days this year.

More Information

• Announcements about Tunnel Hill will be sent in advance of and on burn days via email. To sign up for that list, email SRDupdates@fs.fed.us, subject line Tunnel Hill. You may also sign up for a general email list to receive announcements whenever the district is burning piles by using the subject line Pile Burning.

• To hear a recorded message about daily pile burning plans, dial 970-887-4116.

• Maps, photos and other information will be posted on the web at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=stelprdb5436708

Print a flier for your business or office: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5439642.pdf

If you have any questions or concerns about this project, contact K. Reid Armstrong at krarmstrong@fs.fed.us or call 970-887-4145.

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