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Know Before You Go

Tunnel Hill Pile Burning

Winter Park, CO (Nov. 4, 2013) - The U.S. Forest Service's Sulphur Ranger District may burn hand-piled slash on Tunnel Hill as weather allows beginning Tuesday, 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 buring 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, the U.S. Forest Service plans to burn between 1,000-4,000 pile 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 7 to 10 burn days this year.


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