Prescribed Fire - Pile Burning

The U.S. Forest Service burns piles of woody debris (slash) in an effort of reducing hazardous fuels. These piles are made from the slash left after mechanical thinning or cutting of trees in the forest has happened. Slash piles can range in size from 6'x6'x6' for piles stacked by hand to a minimum of 12'x12'x12' for piles created by machines.

Certain criteria has to be met in order for these piles to be burned, including smoke dispersal conditions, snow or other precipitation in the burn area, adequate staffing, and fuel moisture. These are all outlined in a burn plan, that is thoroughly reviewed before implementation.

All pile burns are conducted within the requirements of a smoke permit issued by the state of Colorado. Below are photos of some previous burns on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland.


pile burning on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District

Above: Piles burning on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District on the South Elkhorn Project in 2005.

Stringtown pile burn

Above: The Canyon Lakes Ranger District burns at the Stringtown Gulch Project area in 2004.

pile toward the end of the burning cycle

Above: This is the end of a pile burn on the Stringtown Gulch Project.

firefighter ignites pile in the snow

Above: A firefighter ignites a prescribed fire in the snow.