Crews conduct slash pile burn operations in Colorado snow

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Crews have waited to burn piles of debris until the ground got wet enough.

DENVER — Even on snowy winter days, Colorado is thinking about fire. Crews are taking advantage of the snow to make communities safer from wildfire.

During the dry months of the year, they’ve collected fuels in the state’s forests. Now the snow is making it safe to burn them.

“If we can reduce the fuels in areas to stop those large fires from gaining ground in the first place, it makes it safer for everyone,” said Tracy LeClair, a spokesperson for the Wildfire Management Section of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC).

Conditions were perfect on Monday for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and DFPC to conduct slash pile burn operations in the Rio Grande State Wildlife Area. Last week, DFPC focused on Lory State Park in Fort Collins.

These prescribed burns reduce fuel buildup. The piles need to be removed by burning when conditions are wet or while snow is on the ground to allow for more control. 

“If Mother Nature can help us out, it is better to get them out of the way now,” LeClair said.

DFPC postponed a large project in the Breckenridge area several times because the ground was too dry. They finally completed the burn project this season when there was more snow cover. 

This weekend, the National Weather Service said snow was on the ground across most of Colorado. It was a rare sight crews have been hoping for. 

“The more we can do to do some smaller projects and wait until Mother Nature helps us out, then we will be better prepared for summer to expand on those projects and make an even greater impact,” LeClair said.

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