Weather conditions this past week provided the U.S. Forest Service a window of opportunity within which to safely burn multiple slash piles in and around the Steamboat Ski Area.
The lighting of the piles highlighted collaborative efforts between the ski resort and the Forest Service to address forest health issues and the removal of hazardous fuels generated from the bark beetle epidemic over the last decade.
Two large piles, approximately 100 feet wide and 20 feet high, were burned as well as numerous smaller piles.
The decision to burn piles was made due to recent snowfall which has allowed for safe burning and eliminated the threat of fire spreading to unintended areas.
A large portion of the Steamboat Ski Area is on National Forest lands where operations take place under a special use permit from the Forest Service.
The ski area is considered Wildland Urban Interface within the Routt National Forest. Removal of hazardous fuels within interface areas is a priority of the Forest Service due to the presence of values at risk.
The resort and the Forest Service work together as stewards of the land while providing a safe recreation experience for visitors.
The ski area's progressive approach to forest health in and around its boundaries has resulted in several years of active timber management to remove dead and diseased trees. Fuels remaining from timber projects include mechanically and hand piled slash.
The Forest Service then burns the slash piles when conditions are right. Removal of these fuels lowers the overall risk of wildfire in the area and is in the best interest of long-term public safety, according to the Forest Service.