BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – If you were near Rabbit Mountain Friday morning, you may have been concerned after noticing a plume of smoke in the sky, but worry not, because this is simply a part of the prescribed burn conducted by Boulder County officials.

According to Boulder County Open Space, the source of that smoke was the Arapaho Prescribed Burn Project at Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain.

Boulder County Open Space briefing ahead of prescribed burns at Rabbit Mountain (BoCo Open Space)

Fire crews with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Management and other local departments met around 10 a.m. on Friday for a briefing ahead of the test burn, which is performed to see if conditions are safe enough to support a safe and effective prescribed burn.

Shortly before 11 a.m., BCOS said in a tweet that fire personnel on the scene completed the test, revealing that the test was successful.

According to BCOS, the effort is highly contained by trails, roads and fire crews with fire hoses and engines ready to respond if conditions change in the slightest. These fire crews will remain in position until the fire has been deemed “under control.”

Areas where smoke may be visible on Friday, Sept. 16

  • Foothills highway
  • Lyons
  • Boulder
  • Estes Park
  • Longmont
  • Fort Collins
  • Loveland
  • Potentially east to I-25

The burn window for the area opened on Sept. 6 and will run through Dec. 4. During ignition days, the park will remain closed until it has been deemed safe.

Why do fire crews use prescribed burns?

Aside from the recycling of nutrients back into the soil, there are several reasons behind the use of these prescribed burn practices.

According to BCOS, this kind of burn removes hazardous fuels that could escalate smaller fires into extreme fires, similar to what the region has been heavily impacted by before.

The process also supports the resurgence of trees, plants, and wildflowers in the area.

Additionally, it maintains a reasonable population size for pests and insects responsible for the spread of certain diseases. For certain species, this burning process leaves behind a habitat perfect for animals that lead a foraging lifestyle. Unwanted species that negatively impact the ecosystem are also weeded out during this process.

For those concerned about deer, elk, bobcats, foxes, skunks and other small creatures in the area, BCOS said that these mammals will naturally clear out as a result of human activity.

To learn more about these governmentally run efforts that keep our ecosystem safer, visit the Boulder County Open Space Prescribed burn information page.

During these managed burns, BCOS suggests that you keep your windows closed in order to sidestep any negative health effects that could come from breathing in the smoke.

If you have any questions regarding this kind of burn, you can reach out to the Parks and Open Space Office in Boulder by calling 303-678-6024.