Pile Burns at Mesa Verde
Contact: Betty Lieurance, 970-529-4608
Mesa Verde National Park fire management staff plans to implement two pile burns within the park. The burns will take place on Chapin Mesa near the "four-way intersection" in the vicinity of park headquarters, and near Rock Springs Cabin on Wetherill Mesa. The objective of both of these burns is to consume the existing accumulation of woody material from past fuel reduction projects.
The single, large pile on Chapin Mesa consists of branches and brush generated from maintaining defensible space around park buildings during the past summer. Fire crews removed encroaching vegetation in order to aid in the management of wildland fires and also to help the structural fire crew in its efforts to protect park buildings. The project followed guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association's "Firewise Communities" program, and was developed and funded through the Wildland Urban Interface Initiative in cooperation with the National Fire Plan.
The three acres of piles near Rock Springs Cabin consist mostly of beetle-killed piñon that was cleared from around the cabin and other nearby historic structures. The removal of the dead and downed fuels should help protect the structure in the event of a nearby wildland fire. Protection of structures is a very important aspect of fire management at Mesa Verde. It is estimated that it will take two to three days to complete ignition and clean-up operations of the approximately 20 hand piles located on site.
Smoke impacts for both projects are expected to be minimal. However, visitors to the park may encounter smoke on the roadway during the Chapin Mesa pile burn. Please drive carefully and watch for fire personnel, vehicles, and warning signs in the vicinity of the project. The Wetherill Road is currently closed to visitor traffic and smoke from the Rock Springs Cabin piles should have no impact to visitors.
Fire managers plan to light the piles during the month of December. The burns will only take place when weather and smoke dispersal parameters are met. For further information concerning these burns, please contact Joanie Lawrence, Fuels Specialist, at (970)529-5066 or Steve Underwood, Fire Management Officer, at (970)529-5049.
Did You Know?
Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park. It has 150 rooms, plus an additional 75 open areas. Twenty-one of the rooms are kivas, and 25 to 30 rooms have residential features. The number of Ancestral Puebloans living in Cliff Palace at any one time was 100 to 120.