Winter conditions are settling in over the Sulphur Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, which means fuels crews will soon begin pile burning operations throughout the district.

 Fuels reduction programs involve mechanical or hand thinning projects, removing trees to reduce forest density and improve forest health. While larger logs are removed for use, unmarketable limbs, saplings, and brush are piled up for burning. Hand piles result from crews using chainsaws to thin the forest and then piling the sawn material; machine piles result from using logging equipment and primarily consist of tree limbs left behind after marketable material is removed.

 This season’s pile burning could begin as soon as October 29 and continue through this spring, depending on weather and fuels conditions. Piles are only ignited when fuels managers are confident that the project can be undertaken safely and successfully. Snow cover, fuel moisture, precipitation, wind, temperature, and available firefighter staffing are all taken into account before beginning a pile burn.

 Piles which are ready for burning are prioritized based on elevation, aspect, access, and proximity to homes. Smoke, flames, and glowing embers are often visible, and are a normal part of pile burning operations. Snow helps contain the piles and firefighters monitor the area during and after the burn. Public and firefighter safety is always the number-one priority in burning operations.

The Sulphur Ranger District has prioritized the areas listed below for pile burning this fall:

  • Winter Park Fuels/Upper Fraser (2,500 hand piles) – Southwest of Fraser and Winter Park, Colo.
  • Keyser Creek Fuels (250 machine piles) – North and south of Keyser Creek
  • Jericho Road Fuels (700 hand piles) – Northwest of Granby Dam
  • Trail Creek Fuels North (5,000 hand piles) – 2.5 miles northwest of Fish Bay on Granby Lake
  • ANRA/Supply Creek Fuels/Kawuneeche Road North (20 machine piles and 1,000 hand piles) – 1.5 miles northwest of Columbine Lake, near Supply Creek Trailhead
  • Willow Creek Fuels East (500 hand piles) – East of Highway 125 near Kauffman Creek
  • Pass Creek (175 machine piles) – West and east of Highway 125 near Gravel Mountain
  • Blue Ridge (15,000 hand piles) – South of County Road 55 along Blue Ridge
  • Cabin Creek (3 machine piles) West of Highway 125 and FSR 112.

 Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health; for more information see

To get the latest updates on when and where burning will occur, follow us on Twitter and Facebook @usfsarp. To be added to our e-mail notification list, send an e-mail to and ask to be added to the Sulphur Ranger District Prescribed Fire list. For a complete list of locations where burning will occur this season, as well as updated accomplishments and photos, visit our InciWeb page at