Bear Dance Fire burn area trail reopening

Dylan Songer, Environmental Scientist for Cottonwood Consulting, LLC explains how the remediation project by the Tribe’s Environmental Programs Department will prove to be beneficial for the environment beyond the initial removal of the hazardous materials, crews also contoured the landscape with natural rock and reestablished critical wetland areas in the process.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

On June 3, 2022, the Bear Dance Fire ignited on tribal trust land and burned 89 acres north of the Bear Dance grounds and along the Los Pinos River. Following the fire, non-hazardous and hazardous debris was observed on the ground surface in areas paralleling Ute Road by the Tribe’s Environmental Programs Department (EPD). Exposed hazardous materials created a potential concern for public health. Out of an abundance of caution, Tribal Council closed the Bear Dance Fire burn area, including the hiking trail along the Los Pinos River. 

After extensive planning, EPD, Cottonwood Consulting, and Emergency Environmental Services initiated a remediation project on April 8. The project was successfully completed on May 6. This involved the removal and proper disposal of an estimated two million pounds of potentially hazardous materials and soil. Additionally, to enhance the visual appeal of the area, an estimated 340,000 pounds of non-hazardous debris was removed. The remediation area has been backfilled with clean soil and reseeded with an approved local grass mix. 

The Los Pinos River hiking trail had been closed during remediation activities. These activities will be completed on Friday, May 17, and Tribal Council has approved the reopening of the trail. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Southern Ute Environmental Programs Department at 970-563-2272. 

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