BLM conducts burns of Stagecoach piles

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— Plumes of thick black smoke were visible Tuesday near Stagecoach Reservoir as the Bureau of Land Management conducted a controlled burn.

Seventy-five piles of spruce, fir and lodgepole pine trees were burned. The piles were the remains from a fuel-thinning project completed last year.

Lynn Barclay, a BLM spokeswoman, said the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit successfully burned the piles Tuesday, though the project could have lasted through April 5.

"It's a wrap," she said. "Everything went really well."

Crews were burning the piles on BLM land south of Stagecoach Reservoir in an attempt to reduce hazardous fuel in the area, to lower the risk of catastrophic wildland fire and to promote healthy aspen tree growth.

The piles, which measured around 10 feet by 10 feet and reached as high as 4 feet, were left from a hazardous fuel thinning project that was completed last year, she said.

Conditions Tuesday allowed crews to burn the piles in one day.

"Now is the perfect time to burn while there's snow on the ground to minimize the spread of the piles," said fuels specialist Dale Beckerman.

The burn plan was prepared and approved specifying the desired weather and wind conditions, as well as other guidelines for safe and efficient operation, Barclay said.

Favorable weather Tuesday allowed to crews to complete the burn in one day, though rain or snow could have postponed the burn.

"It's never an exact science," she said. "If they got rained out they might have continued the burn until next week or even next year."

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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