Pine Needle Drop Off

By: The Estes Valley Watershed Coalition

Do you remember that blanket of pollen that descended on the Estes Valley in June of 2018? Seems like an eternity ago, but that pollen helped create an amazing pine cone crop last summer. For almost a year, the red-crossbills and red-breasted nuthatches hung out in the valley and ate the seeds. And while I’m not expert, I think the mice thrived on all those pine seeds, too.

Now, those cones are drying up and gracing the forest floor. Pine cones are beautiful and a vital part of the eco-system. They are also filled with sap, and if you ever need help starting a fire, they make excellent kindling (just be careful since they will coat the inside of your flue with creosote).

So, do you have kindling surrounding your house? Is your house just a fire waiting to ignite? With the Cameron Peak fire still burning, now is the time to prepare for the next wildfire in the Estes Valley. Firefighters are good at putting out house fires, but when a wildfire roars down the valley, there is little they can do to stop it.

By creating a defensible space around your home, you can reduce the chances that a spark will ignite and that the fire spreads. Creating a defensible space around your home is the best thing you can do to help firefighters. Without it, they may be forced to “landscape” your property with heavy equipment in the heat of the moment.

One way to defend your home from wildfire is to clear dead or dry vegetation from the area 30 feet around your home and structures. Low hanging branches, weeds, pine cones and pine needles all serve as kindling just waiting for a spark. The Estes Valley Watershed Coalition ( is making it easy to dispose of your pine cones and pine needles by hosting a Pine Cone & Pine Needle drop off event on Saturday October 17th, 2020 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at 1191 Woodstock Dr., Estes Park, CO, 80517 (behind Estes Park Lumber).

Please note the change in date and bag your pine cones and needles (paper yard waste bags preferred). Representatives from the Estes Valley Watershed will have information available about what they do, along with handouts about how to make a defensible space around your property. We ask that you please wear a mask and follow Larimer County guidelines for distancing. Please come early because the event is over when the bins are full.

If you can’t make the event, or wish to drop off more materials, like slash, logs, chunk or decayed wood, pine cones, pine needles, leaves and even noxious weeds, you can drop them off at the Meeker Park Sort Yard.

Please refer to their website for a full list of accepted materials at



community-forestry-sort-yards/. The Meeker Park Sort Yard is open Wednesdays – Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., but will close for the season on Saturday, October 10th, 2020.

The Estes Valley Watershed Coalition is offering two Zoom Webinars on Forest Health and Wildfire Mitigation. The next one will be held on Thursday October 22nd from noon – 1 p.m., via Zoom, and is titled Defensible Space and the Homeowner. To learn more, go to

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