Prescribed burns planned near Aspen, Basalt, Woody Creek and El Jebel

Federal agencies’ fire management unit watching for optimal conditions

Staff report
Smoke rises from the Collins Creek prescribed fire north of Aspen as seen from Aspen Village Station 64 on May 7, 2021. Another prescribed fire is planned in Collins Creek this year.
David Krause/Aspen Times file

A consortium of federal agencies plans to conduct multiple prescribed fires in the region this spring, including several in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit plans to ignite 12 fires if conditions are ripe in coming weeks, the agency announced Tuesday. The prescribed fires are in Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, Mesa and Rio Blanco counties. One of the most visible projects from Aspen will be the Hunter Creek Valley.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, the projects are:

  • Cattle Creek Prescribed Burn, 9 miles northeast of El Jebel, up to 1,500 acres.
  • Seven Castles Prescribed Burn, 6 miles east of Basalt, up to 1,100 acres.
  • Braderich Creek Prescribed Burn, 1 mile west of Redstone, up to 1,500 acres.
  • Collins Creek Prescribed Burn, 7 miles north of Aspen, up to 1,200 acres.
  • Hunter Creek Prescribed Burn, 2 miles northeast of Aspen, up to 1,200 acres.

The goal of the projects is to reduce dense vegetation to lower the risk of large wildfires and stimulate new growth that benefits wildlife.

“As we continue to see larger wildfires and longer fire seasons, the need for more prescribed fires and other fuel reduction work grows,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest supervisor, in a prepared statement.

The fire management units monitors fuels and weather and will only ignite fires if conditions allow a safe, successful burn, according to Lathan Johnson, assistant fire management officer. They also look for conditions that are best for optimal smoke dispersal so the impact on nearby towns is minimized.