Vail Town Council to review East Vail prescribed burn recommendation | VailDaily.com

Vail Town Council to review East Vail prescribed burn recommendation

Daily staff report

VAIL — In an effort to improve the habitat of the bighorn sheep in East Vail, the Vail Town Council will review a proposal to conduct a prescribed burn in the Booth Falls area on Tuesday.

A presentation by Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak is listed as 4.2 on the 2 p.m.-meeting agenda which will take place in the Vail Town Council chambers. Booth Falls is located on the north side of Interstate 70 in East Vail.

Tuesday’s discussion follows a Feb. 5 presentation to council in which wildlife biologist Rick Thompson of Western Ecosystems, Inc., made a number of recommendations to improve the sheep’s winter range. The use of prescribed burns to improve the quality of forage and to remove woody material that restricts the herd’s movement was part of that presentation.

In this first phase of a long-term habitat improvement project, Thompson identified a 2.2-acre town-owned parcel and a 1.8-acre parcel owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation as potential prescribed burn sites. The larger habitat restoration plan encompassing over 100 acres is being developed in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service. This plan will require a multi-step approval process as outlined by the National Environmental Policy Act due to proposed actions involving forest land.

The smaller burns are proposed to take place in April or May of this year to allow for the highest level of safety and maximize the value of the habitat for the 2019-20 winter season, Novak said.

Implementation of a prescribed fire on these properties would require a series of approvals, including the development of a burn plan by the Vail Fire Department in accordance with federal and state standards to be reviewed by a third party. CDOT approval would be required for the 1.8-acre parcel and a smoke permit would be needed from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for both parcels.

In addition to the review and approval process, Chief Novak’s presentation will include estimated resources required for the four- to six-hour burn, public notification procedures as well as potential impacts, such as smoke, temporary road closures and aesthetics.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council will be asked to provide additional direction to Chief Novak regarding next steps. To view the presentation materials, go to vailgov.com. To comment about the proposed habitat improvement project in advance of the meeting, email towncouncil@vailgov.com.