Guest editorial: Sun Peak HOA plans to burn piles along S.R. 224

Chuck Mollard, Sun Peak HOA Fire Safety Committee Park City
Park Record guest editorial

Like many communities within Summit County, the Sun Peak Homeowner’s Association has undertaken a proactive wildfire mitigation initiative.

The need to be proactive in this regard was highlighted by the fire in Parley’s Canyon during the summer of 2021. Fire experts have subsequently determined that we were very lucky that the conditions present at the time resulted in containing what could have been a catastrophic fire causing serious damage to the adjacent communities.

 This effort has followed a very methodical plan:

1.     Identify the hazard of a catastrophic wildfire in the community.

2.     Make an assessment for a plan of action to mitigate this hazard.

3.     Establish a timetable for this plan to meet the financial wherewithal via various phases of fire mitigation efforts over the next few years.

As a result of Phase I of these fire mitigation efforts, there are piles of woody fuels which is estimated to be about 180 tons of material. The primary and most cost-effective method of removing this much material is through the process of pile burning. While pile burning has been common throughout the West, it is relatively new to Summit County and the surrounding area.

Pile burning is highly regulated and carried out by qualified prescribed burn specialists and is conducted under very prescribed conditions:  

• Air quality standards established by the State of Utah must be met or exceeded  
• Defined prescription parameters must occur, including criteria for relative humidity, wind speed and direction.
• Finally, resource and prescribed fire objectives must be met or attainable.

Most of the pile burning in Sun Peak will be inside the community itself and, in all probability, not visible by other Summit County residents. However, there are approximately 90 piles on Sun Peak open land adjacent to S.R. 224 and the Millennium Trail that will be highly visible to citizens traveling along this route. We hope to burn these piles this spring.

To notify the greater Park City community of the date of pile burning along S.R. 224, there will be caution signs posted along the road announcing this activity. To conduct community outreach for Park City-area citizens during the day of pile burning, Sun Peak HOA will host one-hour long seminars on fire mitigation and pile burning at their clubhouse which is located at 1950 Bear Hollow Dr. (across the street from Park City Nursery.) This will include a walk along the Millennium trail to have a first-hand observation of pile burning. This seminar will be free to all participants and there is ample parking adjacent to the clubhouse or across the street in the Community Church parking lot. The plan is for the seminar to start at 10 a.m. on the day of the pile burning and continue on an hourly basis until 2 p.m.


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