PARK CITY, Utah – At Deer Valley Resort, trail crews are hard at work preparing for a busy winter season. Autumn also presents a chance to mitigate wildfire risk on the mountain.
The Deer Valley team is using controlled or “prescribed” burns in close coordination with community partners to minimize natural fuels of dead trees and dry brush that offer an elevated risk of wildfires.
Today, in the vicinity of Flagstaff Mountain, Deer Valley is conducting its first burn of the season and planned burning will go forward over the coming weeks.
Prescribed burns are best performed when there are at least six inches of snow on the ground and the clearing index is greater than 500 feet.
“Deer Valley has utilized a comprehensive forest health program since the inception of the resort,” said Deer Valley Resort’s VP of Mountain Operations Steve Graff. “We’re recognizing we need to increase efforts in our fuel reduction program to reduce wildfire risk and be good stewards of the land we operate on.”
Graff recently contributed to the development of the Park City Wildfire Emergency Preparedness Plan, which was created in collaboration with partners from the Park City Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and the Wildfire Fuels Reduction Committee, as well as Summit County, the State, the Fire Department, and the Forest Service.
These organizations have trained Deer Valley trail crews on burn pile techniques, and they are still working together to maintain healthy trees and lessen the risk of wildfire in the neighborhood.
“We’re using fire as a tool to help us in our forest health program,” adds Graff. “Not only do we drop the dead and dying trees, but now we’re taking it a step further by burning them in the fall when it’s appropriate. The result is a healthier, safer forest ecosystem more resistant to wildfire.”
As the easiest and least expensive method to quickly dispose of large amounts of fuels, prescribed burning is only done in favorable weather conditions, including snowfall and good air quality.
Prescribed burns are tightly monitored by crews on site, and the Park City Fire District, Summit County Fire Warden, and the State’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands are all involved to provide technical assistance and guidance to Deer Valley crews to ensure burns are as safe as possible.
Smoke may be visible in or around the Deer Valley area during a planned burn, but there is no need to call emergency services to report it.