The mountain bike & trail user community is invited to attend an Open House and short Presentation in regards to the Prescribed Fire planned and approved for Hunter Creek, above Aspen, this April / early May. This post’s main image shows a map of the four prescribed fire units, which total 1,100 acres.
The U.S. Forest Service is partnering with ACES, Pitkin County, the City of Aspen, Aspen Fire, and Wilderness Workshop to conduct a prescribed fire in the Hunter Creek Valley in the spring of 2016. The project is to be implemented under the Hunter-Smuggler Cooperative Plan, which was finalized in early 2014 and seeks to improve wildlife habitat, forest resiliency and recreation in the Hunter Creek Valley and surrounding landscape. Click here for more information on the Hunter-Smuggler Cooperative Plan.
RFMBA will attend and be available to answer questions about trail improvement projects approved through the H-S Coop Plan, and the trail projects already implemented over past couple years. ACES has a very thorough description to help you learn all about this Prescribed Fire, here. A couple questions/answers of most interest to mountain bikers are included below:
Where, when and how long will the burn occur?
Where: Please reference the attached map here for an outline of where the prescribed burn will take place. We are asking the public to refrain from recreating in the Hunter Creek Smuggler area for approximately 1-3 days during the prescribed burn.
When: The project will be implemented when conditions are ideal for a safe and effective prescribed fire. Conditions are considered suitable when the snow has melted off the south-facing aspects (slopes) in Hunter Creek and all other surrounding areas are still retaining moisture and snow. These conditions typically occur in April or early May. Other environmental factors such as wind, temperature and relative humidity will be key elements.
Duration: Please note that the work will be taking place over a 1-3 day period. After which, officials will declare the area safe to recreate in.
Will the fire burn up all the trees and blacken the landscape?
No. Prescribed fire differs from the tall, raging crown fires often pictured in the news. They move slowly along the ground, consuming the underbrush. The tree species in the area, including Gambel oak, aspen and mountain shrub, are quick to resprout following fire, often greening up in a matter of weeks.
Regrowth from a prescribed fire, four months later. Plentiful spring precipitation quickly re-greened the landscape and provided fresh forage for wildlife.