Prescribed Burns
Prescribed burn

Prescribed Burn Projects

Parks & Open Space and the Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Management Program plan to conduct prescribed burns when conditions allow.

Slash Pile Burning
Winter 2022-23

Parks & Open Space and the Sheriff’s Office Fire Management Program plan to conduct slash pile burns at several locations this winter.

  • Caribou Ranch – north of Nederland
  • Sherwood Gulch – north of Nederland
  • Reynolds Ranch – east of Nederland
  • Walker Ranch – west of Boulder

There are approximately 400 wood piles total for all locations. The vast majority, 300+, are at Caribou Ranch and Sherwood Gulch.

Fire crews hope to burn piles when there is a winter weather system in the area. Operations will be conducted only when there is sufficient snow cover to ensure safe fire operations and containment. Pile burns are conducted to reduce the amount of fuel on the ground as a result of thinning operations.

Slash pile burns at Caribou Ranch and Sherwood Gulch will require park closures. Park closures will not be required at Reynolds Ranch and Walker Ranch.

Smoke and flames may be visible for up to 72 hours. There may be heavy smoke in the air. Please do not call 911 since a controlled burn is not an emergency. The areas will be monitored to ensure fires are completely out.

Email & Text Alerts

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Notification & Updates

  • Public notification of the burns and corresponding park closures will be released at least 24 hours prior to ignition. Updates will be sent out as conditions warrant.
  • Updates will be also be posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Staffing

Boulder County Parks and Open Space, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Management, along with numerous local and federal fire departments, will be conducting the burns. The project areas are well contained by trails and roads, and fire hoses and fire engines will completely surround the area during the duration of the burns. Firefighting resources will remain on site until the fire is confirmed as being controlled by significant weather conditions or determined to be out.

Conditions & Weather

To determine if conditions are suitable for ignitions, fire managers assess fuel moisture levels and continuously monitor current and projected weather forecasts. Weather considerations include wind, temperature, relative humidity and air quality. Conditions have to meet certain criteria in order for the prescribed burn to proceed. Fire personnel will stop burning if weather conditions change and do not allow for a safe operation (gusty winds), or the situation becomes unsafe. Weather and safety conditions are monitored constantly.

Wildlife Concerns

  • It is past the breeding season for migratory birds. Resident or migrant birds are mobile and can move out of the burn area, which will comprise only some of the habitats available.
  • Large mammals such as deer and elk are very mobile and can move out of the area. The human activity in the area prior to ignition will likely cause the animals to move.
  • Smaller mammals such as bobcat, fox, skunk, and raccoon will be able to move out of the area or use rocky outcrops and dens.
  • Areas of highest wildlife value have been removed from the burn area. Burn blocks are trending to smaller, such that a variety of (unburned) habitats are available nearby.
  • Since a lot of ground maintenance has been done to guide fire behavior, and to promote more understory/ground fire rather than an intense crown fire, a lot of unburned or lightly burned areas are likely to be left within the fire perimeter.
  • Snakes and lizards will find refuge in burrows, under rocks, and in rocky outcrops.

After the Burn

  • Residual smoke may be visible.
  • Firefighting resources will remain on the prescribed burn until the fire is confirmed as being controlled by significant weather conditions or determined to be out.
  • There are also monitoring plots for important data gathering. These plots were studied before the fire, and researchers will return after the fire to document scientific changes.

Smoke Issues

  • Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. Learn how to protect your health from wood smoke.
  • During a prescribed burn, smoke is generated and will drift according to wind currents and other atmospheric conditions.
  • Smoke could settle in areas at night when cooler air traps the smoke particles closer to the surface of the ground.
  • Smoke will be visible from Foothills Highway, Lyons, Boulder, Estes Park, Longmont, Fort Collins, Loveland and possibly east to I-25.
  • Children, older adults and people with heart or lung disease are more likely to be effected by smoke.
  • Close windows and stay indoors if you are concerned.

Benefits of Prescribed Fire

  • Reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires.
  • Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease.
  • Removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem.
  • Provides habitat for foraging wildlife.
  • Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species.
  • Recycles nutrients back to the soil.
  • Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants.

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