US Forest Service OKs use of remote blasting system to fight avalanches on Berthoud Pass

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WINTER PARK, Colorado — The U.S. Forest Service has approved the use of remote-controlled blasters to trigger small snowslides in an attempt to keep big avalanches from blocking Berthoud Pass near Winter Park Resort.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will use the system in an active avalanche chute known as the Stanley Slide, which crosses U.S. Highway 40 in two locations on the east side of the pass. The system will involve five fixed devices, which can be triggered remotely, to release propane-fueled blasts of compressed air.

The system will ultimately replace the current practice of firing shells from howitzers into avalanche zones on the pass.

Crews plan to install the blasters next summer.

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