Planned burn near Rifle

Planned burn at entrance to Rifle March 7 and possibly March 8, 2013

March 1, 2013

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – As part of Garfield County’s ongoing tamarisk and Russian olive removal project, a prescribed burn is planned Thursday, March 7, and possibly, Friday, March 8, near the entrance to Rifle. The burns will occur, weather conditions permitting, on the two-acre island in the Colorado River located just east of the Highway 13 Bridge. Smoke may be visible to residents in the Rifle area and travelers along Interstate 70.

The State Wildland Inmate Firefighting Team (SWIFT) crew from the Rifle Correctional Facility will conduct the burn, and it will be coordinated by Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) supervisors.

Earlier this winter, noxious and water-demanding tamarisk and Russian olive trees were cut on the island, and stacked into approximately 20 slash piles. The burn is necessary to prevent the further spread of seeds downstream, and to eliminate the risk of slash pile debris impacting in-river structures down river.

DOC personnel and Garfield County Vegetation Manager Steve Anthony secured burn permits through the Rifle Fire Protection District and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE). Please direct any questions regarding the prescribed burn or the invasive species project to Anthony, by calling Garfield County at 945-1377, extension 4305.

Residents are advised that if visibility is less than five miles due to smoke, levels are unhealthy. If smoke becomes thick, residents may need to move indoors. This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly. Such groups should consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present, and should consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and causing illness.

Symptoms related to smoke from controlled burns may include:

  • Eye, nose and/or throat irritation—runny eyes and/or nose.
  • Coughing, sore throat.
  • Trouble breathing or tightness of the chest, which may be symptoms of a health emergency.
  • The onset of symptoms related to pre-existing respiratory ailments like asthma or emphysema.
  • Especially following days or weeks of smoke exposure, increased short-term likelihood of getting a cold or having similar symptoms of less effective immune responses.
  • If symptoms persist or are severe, contact a primary health care provider.*

Garfield County Public Health’s Environmental Health Program has monitoring equipment for air quality. On the home page of the Garfield County website, near the bottom of the page, is an Air Quality Index rating. Real-time air quality information is streamed online as well.

For health-related questions, Garfield County Public Health in Rifle has information available online, or can be reached at 970-625-5200.