Thinning efforts in Colorado mean 180,000 piles of timber to burn this winter

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The continued construction of houses in burn zones is forcing this effort to thin overly dense forests and reduce the risk of super-intense wildfires. And burning 180,000 piles of thinned timber may turn into a longer process than foresters had hoped.

"Conditions just aren't favorable. We need more snow. We need a minimum of 3 inches," fuel technician Matt Champa said, deciding to postpone burning of 900 more piles 8 miles west of Loveland in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. "This thing could burn through the night, the wind might get it, and it could creep out."

The upshot is that federal foresters are focused on reducing their 180,000-pile backlog as quickly as possible. Some residents complain that the piles are eyesores. More worrisome, forest managers say, is that they are dry fuel that could threaten homes next summer.