BLM to reduce fire hazard at Cedar Mountain picnic site

Carl and Fredonne Chapman think cutting down excess vegetation near the Cedar Mountain Recreation Site will make them safer.

The Chapman's property borders the Bureau of Land Management picnic area on two sides.

Carl Chapman said getting rid of fire fuels near the picnic area will make his property less susceptible to wildfire.

"It will be a lot safer," he said.

Fredonne Chapman said clearing out some of the vegetation will also make the site look better.

"It will be nice to see a lot of the dead stuff get out of here," she said.

BLM held an open house at the site Wednesday to discuss plans to reduce some of the fuels there.

Starting next week, a mulching machine will cut some of the vegetation down, primarily small junipers, sagebrush and serviceberry. The project should last two to three days.

"We're trying to reduce the fire hazard to protect human life and safety and structure," said John Husband, field manager for the Little Snake Field Office in Craig.

Husband said crews will focus on the small, woody fuels in a 15-acre section near the picnic area.

"The woody fuel is what's going to carry an intense fire," Husband said.

There hasn't been a fire at the site since the picnic area and outhouses were built in the mid-1990s, but Husband said that because people use the area and there is a lot of fuel, there is a fire danger there.

Getting rid of some vegetation near the picnic site will make the area safer, Husband said.

Lynn Barclay, fire mitigation and education specialist for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit, said the crews will leave most of the large trees, but may thin out some sections of trees.

Barclay said thinning out the trees would make it so the fire didn't have a continuous fuel source.

Husband said the large trees and bushes around the picnic tables will remain, but the grass around the barbecues will be cut to reduce fire danger.

"We don't want to change the character of the area," Husband said.

For the first few weeks after the area is cut, Husband said it won't look very nice because there will be a lot of mulch on the ground.

"It will be a bit of a mess for a while," Husband said.

But when the grass grows back in the spring, he said, the area will look nicer because there will be more grass and less sagebrush.

During the project, the 15 acres being treated will be closed to the public, but the trails around Cedar Mountain will remain open.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

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