Fire fuel-reduction project done

Brandon Johnson

Although 2005 was a slow year for wildfires in Northwest Colorado, wildfire crews stayed busy.

At the Cedar Mountain picnic area outside of Craig, the Bureau of Land Management recently wrapped up a fire fuel-reduction project.

Crews removed some small sagebrush and serviceberry bushes and removed some low-hanging limbs from trees and bushes.

Lynn Barclay, fire mitigation and education specialist for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit, said the project will make the area less susceptible to high-intensity wildfires.

Barclay said some people think fuel-reduction projects mean clear cutting all the trees, but that isn’t what happens.

“It isn’t a landing strip,” Barclay said.

There are still trees and sagebrush in the picnic area, but there is enough space between them to stop a fire from having a continuous fuel source, she said.

If a fire did break out near the picnic area, Barclay said it wouldn’t be very large.

Removing low-hanging limbs also cuts down the fire risk, Barclay said. If a ground fire breaks out, it will be hard for it to spread to entire trees and bushes if there aren’t any low-hanging branches.

Right now, the trees that were cut are piled at the picnic area waiting to be burned. Barclay said crews will burn the wood after there is snow on the ground.

This spring, when new grass grows, Barclay said the area will look much nicer than it did before the project.

There are also fuel-reduction projects planned in the coming months near Douglas Mountain and in the far northwest corner of Moffat County, Barclay said.

At Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, crews have fuel-reduction projects planned for this winter, as well.

Joseph Flores, fire management officer at the refuge, said crews will look to clear out some of the fuels in cottonwood stands.

He said that because the cottonwood stands are old, there are dead trees on the ground that provide ample fuel for a fire.

Barclay said although the wildfire season is effectively over, there is a fire risk until there is snow on the ground.

She said people still need to be careful with campfires because even a small fire can destroy property.

“It doesn’t take a big fire to do damage,” she said.

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