BLM Completes Fuel Reduction Projects in Chaffee County

The Bureau of Land Management’s Rocky Mountain District Fire staff recently completed two large fuels reduction projects in Chaffee County.

Both projects are the result of many years of fuels reduction efforts designed to reduce fire risk to homes, lessen the impacts of future wildfires, and improve habitat for wildlife.

“Conditions aligned for crews to burn about 2400 piles of slash over nearly 250 acres in January and February,” said BLM Rocky Mountain District Assistant Fire Management Officer John Markalunas. “After many years of work, we are glad to complete these two projects and contribute to fire mitigation efforts in the county.”

Crews completed the Midland-Mt. Harvard Estates pile burn on January 5. Crews burned approximately 1000 piles over 100 acres. This 325-acre fuels reduction project is located north of Buena Vista on BLM-managed lands adjacent to the Mt. Harvard Estates and Colorado Midland subdivisions. The first phase of the project began in 2016 and a second occurred in 2018. The last of the 2018 piles were burned this year.

The Mt. Shavano pile burn was completed on February 4. Crews burned approximately 1400 piles of slash resulting from a 2019 hand-thinning project over 138 acres of BLM-managed lands northwest of Poncha Springs.

The BLM plans to continue fuels reduction treatments in Chaffee County in the summer of 2021. Crews will begin hand thinning vegetation on approximately 100 additional acres of public land in the Mount Shavano area. Those piles will likely be burned in the winter of 2022-2023 after the piles cure.

Although these two projects conclude pile burns in Chaffee County for this year, Rocky Mountain District Fire may be conducting pile burns in the coming months in Fremont and Custer counties.

For more information on past and upcoming pile burns on BLM-Royal Gorge Field Office lands, please visit Inciweb (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7266/) or the BLM Colorado Fire Facebook page (https://facebook.com/BLMColoradoFire).

Terry West
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