Fire helped shape the Aspen-area environment for thousands of years until white settler’s arrived and snuffed every blaze over the past century.

Six governments and conservation groups are teaming to try to restore a bit of balance this month in the Hunter Creek Valley north of Aspen.

Firefighters with the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit and Aspen Fire Department will intentionally start fires on a sun-drenched, south-facing slope to burn off decadent vegetation and spur new growth. It will reduce ground fuels that can accelerate fire, and the fire will create better browsing for big game such as deer and elk.

“The burn area is currently mapped out at around 1,100 acres,” said Jamie Werner, forest program director at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. The targeted slopes are between the valley floor and along the road heading up to Four Corners. The area includes the slope where the Hummingbird Traverse Trail was constructed last summer. Recreational users will be asked to stay out of the area for between one to three days, Werner said.

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