Clear Creek Ranger District prepares for winter pile burning

Contact(s): Travis Mason-Bushman

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo.—October 29, 2019—With fresh snow on the ground across much of Clear Creek, Jefferson, and Gilpin counties, crews from the Clear Creek Ranger District of the Arapaho National Forest are preparing to start burning slash piles resulting from fuels reduction and hazardous tree removal projects in the area. This season’s pile burning could begin as soon as November 5 and continue through this spring, depending on weather and fuels conditions.

Fuels reduction programs involve mechanical or hand thinning projects, removing trees to reduce forest density and improve forest health. While larger logs are removed for use, unmarketable limbs, saplings, and brush are piled up for burning. Hand piles result from crews using chainsaws to thin the forest and then piling the sawn material; machine piles result from using logging equipment and primarily consist of tree limbs left behind after marketable material is removed.

Piles are only ignited when fuels managers are confident that the project can be undertaken safely and successfully. Snow cover, fuel moisture, precipitation, wind, temperature, and available firefighter staffing are all taken into account before beginning a pile burn. Piles which are ready for burning are prioritized based on elevation, aspect, access, and proximity to homes. Smoke, flames, and glowing embers are often visible, and are a normal part of pile burning operations. Snow helps contain the piles and firefighters monitor the area during and after the burn. Public and firefighter safety is always the number-one priority in burning operations.

Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health; for more information see

To get the latest updates on when and where burning will occur, follow us on Twitter and Facebook @usfsarp. To be added to our e-mail notification list, send an e-mail to and ask to be added to the Clear Creek Ranger District Prescribed Fire list. For a complete list of locations where burning will occur this season, as well as updated accomplishments and photos, visit our InciWeb page at

The Clear Creek Ranger District has prioritized the areas listed below for pile burning this winter:

  • Blue Creek (3,000 hand piles) – Northwest of Empire along the U.S. 40 corridor.
  • Echo Hills (1,300 hand piles) – 4 miles west of Evergreen, along Highway 103 near Echo Hills and Beaver Brook subdivisions.
  • Evergreen (200 hand piles) – Near Evergreen, .5 mile southwest of Highway 78 and Cub Creek Trail.