Boulder utilizes burns

  Last May, when a prescribed burn in New Mexico's Bandelier National Monument blew out of control and destroyed 200 structures in nearby Los Alamos, burn programs around the nation faced intense scrutiny.

But in Boulder, Colo., support for prescribed burning in local open space remains strong. The Boulder Fire Department's prescribed fire management specialist Rod Moraga says almost everyone who calls him is very supportive of prescribed burning.

While Moraga had hoped to burn approximately 250 acres of Boulder's open space this spring, weather limited burning to about 130 acres. He hopes to complete three more burns this fall.

Boulder's prescribed burning program is unusual among municipalities. According to Moraga, other communities are interested in starting prescribed burn programs, but the necessary "staffing and commitment level is hard to reach." While Boulder's burn program is almost entirely city-funded, Boulder does coordinate with fire managers from the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest and the Colorado State Forest Service.

One benefit of Boulder's prescribed burning and forest thinning became clear last fall, when a wildfire broke out in the foothills west of Boulder. The Boulder County Open Space Department had previously thinned and burned the ponderosa pine forest in this area. Justin Dombrowski from the Boulder Fire Department says the fire burned less intensely in the previously burned areas. As a result, fire crews were able to work safely to prevent the fire from reaching 150 nearby homes.

For more information, contact the Boulder Fire Department, 303/441-3350.

Copyright © 2001 HCN and Elizabeth Pike

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