Tunnel Hill Project

The U.S. Forest Service plans to burn hand-piled slash on Tunnel Hill as weather allows.

What you need to know:

  • Pile burning will be conducted by a team of U.S. Forest Service firefighters. Firefighter and public safety will be the first priority.
  • Burning will occur when there is 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.
  • 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.
  • A safety closure will be in effect on Tunnel Hill when burning is active.

photos of piles being burned on tunnel hill

Tunnel Hill is located on U.S. Highway 40 between the Town of Winter Park and Winter Park Resort.


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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 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.