Wellington Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project

12/7 Update: USFS crews will continue burning today, Wednesday, and tomorrow, Thursday 12/8. Please do not call 911.

11/29 Update: Pile burning has begun today effective at 10am and is expected to continue this week, conditions permitting. Crews are on site monitoring progress. Please do not call 911.

Update 10/24/2022: 

Summit County and its partners are planning prescribed burning of slash piles on 86 acres of Summit County, Town of Breckenridge, and United States Forest Service lands during the winter of 2022-2023. Please see this press release and map for more information on the planned operations and project area.

Slash piles curing on the Wellington Hazardous Fuels Reduction project site.


Notifications for burn operations on Summit County lands will be made prior to any ignitions via the Summit County website, Summit County Alerts, roadside messaging boards, press releases, and neighborhood management companies. Smoke and flame will be visible during operations and possibly for several days following ignition. Please do not call 911 if you see smoke and flame in the area following a planned ignition. Red, White, & Blue Fire Protection District and the Summit County Sheriff's Department will monitor the area after the initial burn as outlined in the Burn Plan.

Smoke sensitive individuals can contact Jordan Mead at Jordan.mead@summitcountyco.gov or call (970) 668-4065 for specific notification prior to burning operations on Summit County Lands. Please see the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website to learn more about how to minimize the impacts of wood smoke.

White River National Forest, Dillon Ranger District: 

Pile burning on National Forest Lands is planned for winter 22-23, depending on weather conditions. Burning will be conducted by qualified US Forest Service personnel.

Smoke sensitive individuals can contact Ryan Hughes at eric.hughes@usda.gov.

For more information about the winter burn program watch the following Public Service Announcement from the US Forest Service and Summit Fire & EMS Authority.

Update 11/2/2020:

 Project operations are complete. Crews completed cutting and piling on the entire project area. Slash piles will cure (dry) over the next year, with burn operations expected in the winter of 2021/2022 or 2023/2023.

Federal and State Forest service employees will continue to monitor the project area for invasive species (weeds) and natural revegetation including native grasses and forbs, aspen suckers, and conifer regeneration. The area is expected to naturally revegetate and invasives will be treated as appropriate. Researchers with The Nature Conservancy will also be monitoring aspen growth and stand health.

Aspen stands are expected to expand into the recently cut area. A stand of limber pines on the edge of the project unit had the lodgepole pine thinned out of the stand. Limber pines are somewhat rare in Summit County, and are not adapted to frequent or high severity fire. By removing the ingrowth of lodgepole pines, the limber pine have a better chance of surviving a potential fire.

The project operations border private property in many areas. Visitors and residents exploring the project area, hikers, and backcountry skiers are reminded to educate themselves on public land boundaries and respect private property.

Treatment at trail junction
Hillside above Wellington Wildlife snag
looking across hill

The purpose of this project is to reduce hazardous fuels, protect communities, and enhance forest health.  By removing burnable vegetation (hazardous fuels) this project will decrease the risk and impacts of wildfire to the Wellington and Lincoln Park communities in the wildland-urban interface, create defensible space, and fuel breaks. It will also foster healthy, long-term forest conditions by promoting the regeneration of lodgepole pine and the expansion of aspen, both of which thrive in open, full-sun conditions. 

This project work is anticipated to start in September 2020, with a completion date of October 29, 2021.

The project area is a cross-boundary partnership between the White River National Forest (USFS), Summit County (SCOS), and the Town of Breckenridge (ToB) on forest and open space lands on the Wellington side of the Golden Horseshoe Trail System. 

The project will treat a total of 94 acres: 45 SCOS/ToB and 49 USFS. All trees will be hand-cut using chainsaws. Specific work across the properties will include: 

  • Cutting and piling dead trees (2 ac) 
  • Thinning and piling all dead and understory living lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and aspen trees less than 8.5 inches diameter to a defined spacing (36 ac) 
  • Cutting and piling dead and living conifers growing in mature aspen stands (6 ac) 
  • Cutting and piling dead and living lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and aspen trees greater than 0.5 inches diameter (45 ac)

 *Advanced regeneration are lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, and subalpine fir less than 5 inches diameter and greater than 4.5 ft tall with no diseases and at least 60% crown ratio. Advanced regeneration will not be cut except to reach spacing or piling contract requirements. 

*Tree diameter is measured at 4.5’ above ground level. 

*Crown Ratio is the ratio of live crown (tree branches with green leaves/needles) to total tree height.

Map showing Wellington Forestry Project Treatment Units - Updated 9/3/2020

Tree species in the project area include lodgepole pine and aspen, with a limited number (<1%) of Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, bristlecone and limber pine. Living limber pine and bristlecone pine are not included in the cutting prescriptions. The mountain pine beetle infestation resulted in many dead lodgepole pine trees within the project site. A forest inventory was conducted in 2019 across the project area and found 40-60% mortality in the lodgepole pine stands.  The inventory also found 75% of the living lodgepole pine are infested with dwarf mistletoe, a native parasitic plant, that causes up to 3% mortality annually and causes stunted growth in regeneration.

Wellington Forestry Project Before Photo

Project work may cause recreation trails to close for up to 30 minutes at a time. Area residents could hear noise from the work and see forestry activity in the area. Work hours are limited from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday-Saturday. 

This project is part of the Good Neighbor Authority program between the Colorado State Forest Service and United States Forest Service. It is made possible through the Summit County Strong Future Fund.

Partners on the project include: 

  • Summit County Open Space and Trails (SCOS)
  • United States Forest Service (USFS) - Dillion Ranger District
  • Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS)
  • Town of Breckenridge (ToB)

This project is being managed by the Colorado State Forest Service. Contact Project Administrator Ashley Garrison with any questions. Ashley.garrison@colostate.edu

Project status updates will be posted here as the project is closer to starting and throughout the operational period.