News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: November 24, 2020

Pile Burn Planned at Wildernest-Mesa Cortina Open Space

Hand Pile Burning

Slash piles from the Mesa Cortina Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project will be burned mid-December; residents invited to virtual community meeting Dec. 1

Contact: Jordan Mead, Resource Specialist, Summit County Open Space and Trails

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit County Open Space & Trails Department has contracted with wildland fire professionals at the Forest Stewards Guild to plan and perform prescribed pile burning on the Mesa Cortina Open Space between the Wildernest and Mesa Cortina neighborhoods near Silverthorne.

Summit County Open Space & Trails will host a virtual community meeting via Zoom at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 1, to provide an overview of the operation and answer questions from community members.  

Burn operations are scheduled to take place Dec. 7-20. These dates are subject to change in the event of unfavorable weather conditions. Burn operations require at least 6 inches of snow on the ground and a forecast for weather conditions that will maintain at least 6 inches of snow for 48 hours following the burn. Residents and visitors will receive notification of the burns through community alerts and roadside message boards.

The Forest Stewards Guild manages and oversees the Gravitas Peak Prescribed Fire Module, which seeks to re-introduce prescribed fire to fire-adapted ecosystems on a landscape scale. The wildland fire professionals at the Forest Stewards Guild are in the process of developing a 21-part burn plan, which will outline all elements of a successful burn operation. 

“We chose to work with the Forest Stewards Guild because they bring a high level of experience and professionalism to all aspects of the planning and operations of this prescribed burn,” said Jordan Mead, resource specialist with Summit County Open Space & Trails. “Their mission to reduce risk to communities and increase the resilience of fire-adapted ecosystems aligns well with Summit County fuels reduction and forest management goals.”

Contractors conducted hand piling of slash materials during the summer and fall of 2019 to reduce negative effects to vegetation and riparian habitat along Ryan Gulch.

“It has been our aim from the onset of this project to minimize impacts to local residents, wildlife habitat and vegetation, while still meeting the broader objective of reducing fuels connectivity and the risk of catastrophic wildfire to the densely populated neighborhoods of Wildernest and Mesa Cortina,” Mead added.

The project is funded through the voter-approved Summit County Strong Future Fund, which includes $1 million per year for wildfire mitigation across the county. Summit County Open Space & Trails thanks the community for its ongoing support of community safety, hazardous fuels reduction and forest health management.

Careful planning by the contractor will reduce the likelihood of significant smoke impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods, but wildland fire smoke can negatively impact sensitive individuals. Smoke-sensitive residents in the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest neighborhoods who would like to be notified of planned burn days can email Jordan Mead in the Open Space & Trails Department or call 970-668-4065. Residents can limit their exposure to smoke by keeping windows and doors closed and setting up an indoor portable air filtration unit.

For more information on the project, visit

To join the Zoom meeting on Dec. 1, visit

 Meeting ID: 821 7371 8945 

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