Sen. Gardner visits Piceance Basin

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RBC Sheriff Anthony Mazzola (left) and BLM White River Field Office Manager Kent Walter (center) discuss the successful management of the Hunt Fire with Senator Cory Gardner (right).
CAITLIN WALKER PHOTO

RBC | U.S. Senator Cory Gardner made an appearance in remote western Colorado Monday afternoon for a tour of the natural soda plant and the Hunt Fire in the Piceance Basin. Time constraints prohibited Gardner from going all the way to the burn site, but he listened to BLM firefighters review the decision made to manage the Hunt Fire for natural resources.

“This was a success story,” said Kyle Arnold, BLM White River Field Office Assistant Field Manager. “Fire is not always bad on the the landscape.”

The Hunt Fire was ignited by lightning Sept. 5 in rugged terrain in a remote part of Rio Blanco County. Fire officials evaluated the location, conditions, and recommended “management for natural resources.”

The sole grazing permittee in the area told officials they, “had wanted that done for years.”

The fire has now burned 3700 acres and is 80% contained.

The decision to allow a wildland fire to burn is frequently questioned by the general public despite evidence that managed fires improve wildlife and grazing habitat and reduce the possibility of uncontrolled fires.

“We manage every single fire,” Arnold said. “Some we put out immediately, some we manage for resource benefit.”

Commissioner Gary Moyer, Sheriff Anthony Mazzola and BLM White River Field Office District Manager Kent Walter were among those present for the meeting with Gardner.

By NIKI TURNER | editor@ht1885.com