Controlled cattail burn update — March 4

March 4, 2015

controlled burn, Silt

Partial view of wetlands in downtown Silt between Kum & Go and Inter-Mountain storage units.

Partial view of wetlands in downtown Silt between Kum & Go and Inter-Mountain storage units.

This morning I sent an email to Silt Police Chief Levy Burris, Town Administrator Pamela Woods, and Mayor Rick Aluise:

Regarding the controlled cattail burn, according to Amy Hadden Marsh’s report on KDNK last week “officials will meet again in two weeks to decide whether a burn will occur this spring.”

However according to a blurb on my Town of Silt billing statement: “Please be advised, that in the next couple of week’s weather permitting the Town of Silt, and other entities will be conducting a controlled burn where the cattails are located next to Kum & Go. For details please contact Chief Levy Burris at the Silt Police Department …”

The statement on KDNK implies the town has not decided whether to re-schedule the controlled cattail burn and will reconsider the issue at the next board meeting on March 9.

The statement on my bill implies the town plans to conduct the controlled cattail burn at some unspecified day and time without notifying the residents in advance.

This is confusing. Can you please clarify?

Thank you.

I received this reply from Chief Burris:

“Peggy, due to weather conditions the burn was postponed. The direction of the Board of Trustees was for Town staff to move forward with the burn. I cannot speak for KDNK or the information that they had reported on. I know that the planning group will meet again next week. We will decide if the weather and other conditions will allow for this (burn) to occur with the most favorable conditions and the least impact to residences and local businesses. The 11th of March appears to be favorable and we will again make notice to local radio and public television and any other media available, notice to the residents if this will occur. I will keep you in the loop and let you know. Respectfully, Levy Burris”

Fun Facts:

  • The 5-acre parcel where the cattail wetlands are located is owned by the Town of Silt. That means the citizens of Silt own the wetlands. Not the town staff. Not the mayor.
  • There has been no public notice or public hearing to address citizens’ concerns and questions regarding the proposed controlled cattail burn.
  • The SiltBOTs approved the controlled cattail burn by consensus. No vote was taken on the matter.
  • According to the Army Corps of Engineers, jurisdictional wetlands, such as Silt wetlands, maybe mowed or burned. Jurisdictional wetlands cannot be drained, excavated, or filled in.
  • Silt has a mosquito control program already in place. There has never been a case of West Nile virus reported in Silt, or Garfield County.
  • According to the Army Corps of Engineers, controlled cattail burns do not control the spread of cattails — or mosquitoes — and burning does not reduce the size of wetlands.
  • The Silt wetlands serve as nesting grounds for blackbirds, ducks, and other birds; plus habitat for muskrats, beavers, and other wildlife.
  • Cattails absorb groundwater contaminants thus preventing toxins from leaching into the Colorado River.
  • For decades, prior to the arrival of Kum & Go, that site was the location of a gas station and mechanics shop, and the wetlands had become a dumping ground for used oil and gasoline and old tires.
  • Chief Burris said, “We had removed a few tires that we found down there …”
  • The soil and groundwater have not been tested for toxic chemicals.
  • Cattails burn quickly and produce a lot of heat combined with thick, black columns of smoke. A sudden shift in wind direction creates fire tornadoes.
  • There is the potential risk that toxic chemicals will be released with the smoke. Any old tires still buried could ignite and burn.

toxic fumes sign

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