Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Lodge company employee hauls brush to the chipper.

Colter Bay Log Cabin Fuels Project a Success

Grand Teton National Park / Bridger Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Throughout the month of September the only sound to be heard at the Colter Bay Log Cabins was the buzz of chain saws. The Grand Teton Lodge Company, a concessionaire within Grand Teton National Park that operates the guest cabins, and the Grand Teton Fire Management Office teamed up to work on a fuels management project in the Colter Bay developed area. The project was designed to aid in the suppression of a wildland fire by creating defensible space in the immediate area surrounding the log cabins.

The log cabin project was 30 acres in size with approximately 70 guest log cabins within the project area. The objectives of the project were to bring the log cabin structures into Firewise specifications by thinning out ladder fuels, removing dead and downed logs, removing overhanging limbs that are a source of needlecast for the roofs of the cabins, and to improve emergency vehicle access to the cabin area. This project was located in a high visitor use area, so the timing of project implementation required a thoughtful approach.

Due to the location and the nature of the project, an obvious partnership was formed between the Grand Teton Lodge Company Maintenance/Grounds Crew, the Grand Teton Fire Management Office, and the Bridger Teton National Forest. Throughout the course of a month the Lodge Company provided dump trucks, equipment drivers and personnel to aid in hauling brush to a wood chipper, obtained from the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Teton Interagency fire crews operated chain saws, the wood chipper and hauled brush with the Lodge employees. The common practice for similar fuels projects within the Park is to pile the cut material on site and burn the piles one year later once the material has cured out. Due to space limitations and aesthetic concerns in this busy area, all of the material cut from the site was to be chipped and removed. The Park and the Lodge Company utilized the chipped material to spread on social trails between cabins and around native plantings surrounding structures.

Top: Photopoint taken of project site prior to fuels treatment. Bottom: Photopoint taken of project site after fuels treatment.

The success of this project relied on the partnership between the Lodge Company and the Fire Management Office and the ability to coordinate the number of individuals working on the project, the use of the equipment and public relations. The project was completed at the end of September with approximately 1300 person hours and 660 cubic yards of material. Visitor support for the project was high with many visitors gaining an understanding of wildland-urban interface issues.

The Colter Bay Log Cabin project is one of many fuels treatment projects that the Grand Teton Fire Management Office undertakes each year. This is the first partnership with a concessionaire operation in the Park to complete a project. Future planning has identified other areas in need of fuels treatment surrounding other concession operated developments by Grand Teton Lodge Company. The Teton Interagency Fire Management Office anticipates continuing the partnership and working with the Lodge again in the future.

Additional thanks are given to the Grand Teton Trail Crew, Rangers, Science and Resource Management and the North District Roads staff for all of their assistance on this project. Dry fire conditions throughout the summer left the Teton Interagency fire crew short on personnel and without the additional assistance these work groups provided the project would not have been completed this summer.

Contact: Mack McFarland, Assistant Fire Management Officer
Phone: (307) 739-3313