Fire managers conclude pile-burning efforts at Wildernest-Mesa Cortina Open Space

After a number of successful pile-burning operations in December, Summit County Open Space & Trails and the Forest Stewards Guild have concluded burning efforts at the Wildernest-Mesa Cortina Open Space for the winter.

Because of the amount of snow built up on the ground, it won’t be possible to complete burning of the remaining piles this winter, and burn operations in December were slowed by smaller crew sizes as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Now that the piles have up to 2 feet of snow on and around them, the consumption rate would be significantly reduced compared to earlier in the season,” resource specialist Jordan Mead said in a news release. “More snow can lead to larger amounts of smoke, as well. In an effort to minimize smoke impacts and make operations efficient we have decided to postpone the remaining piles to the early parts of next winter.”

The project was funded by the county’s Strong Futures Fund, which dedicates $1 million annually for wildfire mitigation strategies like fuels reduction, education and fire-protection equipment. For more information on the project, visit


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