Prescribed burn project could resume near Cottonwood Pass

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GRANBY, Colo. (April 29, 2021) – The U.S. Forest Service’s Arapaho National Forest will be looking for opportunities to continue the Blue Ridge prescribed fire project in the area near Cottonwood Pass as conditions allow over the coming weeks.

Implementing prescribed fire is a critical part of reducing the risk of wildfire to communities and improving forest health conditions in Grand County. The Blue Ridge area is part of the Wildland-Urban Interface formed by the towns of Granby, Hot Sulphur Springs and the Fraser Valley. Improving conditions in this area is a key component of the Hot Sulphur, Fraser and Grand County Community Wildfire Protection Plans. This prescribed fire project is the next step in the Blue Ridge Forest Health Project.

Prescribed fire is implemented under very specific environmental conditions (e.g. wind speed, relative humidity, smoke dispersion). Prescribed fires are planned and implemented by trained fire managers with a strong understanding of fire behavior and years of on-the-ground experience. Fire managers take advantage of existing fire breaks like roads, trails, rocky areas or create control measures by thinning the forest to create a fire break. This helps them safely keep the prescribed fire within its designated control perimeter. During spring conditions, snow is often used as a control measure. Fire managers staff the fire until it is deemed secure and patrol the prescribed fire until it is declared out.

In past years, crews have completed burning on 438 acres in the Blue Ridge area. This spring, fire managers are looking to burn up to 200 acres over multiple days, starting down low in the Beaver Creek Road area (County Road 50) and then later moving up toward Big Meadows south of Cottonwood Pass as the snow starts to melt.

Depending on conditions, smoke from these activities could be visible from many areas in the county, including Parshall, Granby and parts of the Fraser Valley. Smoke will be in the air, but fire managers work closely with experts to minimize the impacts to the extent possible. Air quality is carefully monitored before and during a prescribed fire and all prescribed burns comply with state air quality regulations to minimize impacts to communities.

Unlike a natural start wildfire, fire managers can control when a prescribed starts and ends, giving smoke sensitive residents the chance to plan around those impacts. To learn more about the potential health impacts of smoke visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.

See a map of the Blue Ridge Prescribed Burn. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @usfsarp for day-of-burn updates and look for more email updates the day before burning is likely to begin. To receive updates on this and other Arapaho National Forest projects, please send your email information to katherine.armstrong#@usda.gov with the subject line Blue Ridge Updates.