By Spencer Wilson

KEYSTONE, Colo. (CBS4) – The public is getting a chance to speak up before the U.S. Forest Service moves forward with a plan to light 44 acres of land on fire. The land sits right behind the Summit County Public Shooting Range.

“We haven’t done much broadcast burn here in the county in the last couple decades. We do a lot of pile burning which is different,” U.S. Forest Service Fuels Planner Kathleen Gray explained Tuesday afternoon.

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This would be scheduled as early as this coming fall once conditions are right. If approved, firefighters would be on hand and will have dug fire breaks in order to keep the burn where they want it, and keep it out of where they don’t.

All of this is in an effort to reduce the power of a wildfire if one were to start nearby, like they’ve seen three times in the last decade.

“This piece of ground is going to burn again,” Gray said. “So when it burns is the question. Do we want a planned ignition where we have control measures in place with firefighters already out here? Or do we want it to be an unplanned ignition in the middle of summer when the fuel conditions are dry and firefighters are spread thin?”

Steven Miller believes the burn would be a good idea. He frequents the Summit County Range once per week, and said he understands the hazard that comes from folks using the range.

“We’ve had a couple fires here over the years from people using incendiary rounds. I think there was also someone with a flair gun that set off a fire,” Miller said.

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“I think a little mitigation between this and larger fuel would be a smart idea,” said referencing a hillside.

The Dillon Ranger District is hosting a field trip May 10, 2022 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Summit County Public Shooting Range, 639 County Road 66, Keystone. The intent of the meeting is for the public to see the area first-hand and learn more about the proposal.

To attend, please meet at the Dillon Ranger Station at 680 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne.

Spencer Wilson