Wildfire defenses proposed near Fulford | VailDaily.com

Wildfire defenses proposed near Fulford

Cliff Thompson
A firefighting plane battles a wildfire near Fulford, south of Eagle, in this June, 2001 file photo. The U.S. Forest has proposed thinning woods in the area to reduce the risk of such fires.

Defensible – or cleared – space around dwellings reduces the amount of burnable material and can help lower the danger from wildfire. The area around Fulford, which is 12 miles south of Eagle, is classified by the Forest Service as having a high wildfire hazard.

The land being examined for cutting is approximately half Forest Service and half private land and it is a joint Forest Service/private venture.

As required by law, the Forest Service is seeking comments on the project which is scheduled to begin in summer and will take one to two years to complete.

Crews will remove downed and dead standing trees and will also prune the low-hanging branches of live trees. That should help prevent any potential fire from ascending to the crown of the tree canopy where it is difficult to fight.

Because aspen stands tend to reduce fire intensity, crews will encourage the growth of aspen by removing any spruce or fir trees that are encroaching on aspen stands. The defensible space also provides fire crews with a safe place to fight fires.

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Some of the logs from the thinning and clearing will be sold for use as firewood.

Two summers ago during the height of the worst drought in three centuries, lightning sparked a fire on Porphyry Mountain near Fulford. Fire crews were able to snuff it quickly, but the fire highlighted the wildfire danger in the area.

Huge areas of public land are full of potential fuel wood because of a century-long policy of extinguishing all wildfires. Periodic fires sweep a forest of dead and dying trees and help to stimulate new ,more fire-resistant growth.

Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: cthompson@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

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