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 From 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 U.S. Forest Service plans to burn at least 1,000 piles per day on Tunnel Hill.
The U.S. Forest Service has installed three particulate monitors in strategic locations near the burn area and will review results daily. Burning operations will be adaptive to maintain air quality standards set by the EPA.