Fire Mitigation Efforts at Mesa Verde National Park
Contact: Steve Underwood, 970-529-5049
Fire Management officials in Mesa Verde National Park will be implementing Wildfire Hazard Risk Reduction projects this summer within developed areas of the park, announced Superintendent Cliff Spencer. These projects will create and maintain a defensible fuel break in and around park structures and help protect neighboring communities. There are currently two projects planned for the month of August.
The first project involves the mechanical removal of trees and brush in and around park structures that could pose a significant fire risk in the event of a wildland fire. The park contains approximately 170 structures ranging from recent construction to significant historic structures constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This project will not only aid the wildland fire crew in their efforts to manage wildland fires, but will also help the structural fire crew in their efforts to protect park buildings. The project follows guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association’s “Firewise Communities” program, and has been developed and funded through the Wildland Urban Interface Initiative in cooperation with the National Fire Plan. The National Fire Plan was initiated by Congress after the severe fire season of 2000 and stresses the importance of reducing hazardous fuels around structures to reduce the risk from wildfire.
Additionally, personnel from Mesa Verde National Park are collaborating with the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Cedar Mesa Ranches Homeowner’s Association in an effort to lower the wildfire risk to Mesa Verde and our neighbors. This treatment would reduce fire intensities in the event of a wildfire and is located on the north side of Highway 160 at the eastbound off-ramp near the park entrance. The community of Cedar Mesa Ranches and several businesses are located just to the north of the work site. The project involves the removal of beetle-killed trees, dead and down fuels, some brush, and the removal of lower limbs of some trees. The Mesa Verde Helitack crew will be performing the bulk of the work and residents of Cedar Mesa Ranches have committed to assisting with this project.Material removed from both project areas will either be chipped and dispersed on-site or piled away from the structures for future burning. Follow-up treatments may be necessary to maintain desired fuel levels.
For more information on this and other fire management projects in Mesa Verde contact Fire Management Officer Steve Underwood, at (970)529-5049 or Fuels Specialist Joanie Lawrence, at (970)529-5066.
Did You Know?
On a snowy December day in 1888, while ranchers Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason searched Mesa Verde’s canyons for stray cattle, they unexpectedly came upon Cliff Palace for the first time. The following year, the Wetherill brothers and Mason explored an additional 182 cliff dwellings.