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Summit County: Keystone forest project close to OK

A map shows the overall forest treatment area at Keystone Ski Area in Summit County, Colorado.

Beetle-kill trees targeted for salvage logging, some spraying planned to protect high-value trees

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Keystone Ski Area may be able to begin an extensive forest health treatment program this summer, clearing dead trees, spraying others to protect them from pine beetles and replanting seedlings to help speed recovery of beetle-stricken forests.

A final decision will be issued after a 30-day objection period. All the project documents and maps are online at the White River National Forest website.

The White River National Forest released a completed environmental study for the project this week. According to the agency, the proposed action would “implement hazard tree, salvage and regeneration treatments on about 1,650 acres of lodgepole pine on National Forest lands within special use permit boundary of the Keystone Ski Resort.”

The goal is to reduce risks to the public and infrastructure from falling trees and to create conditions that would increase lodgepole pine regeneration following the mountain pine beetle epidemic by removing dead, dying and susceptible trees through salvage.  

According to the Forest Service, “The forested landscape at the ski area has changed dramatically in recent years due to the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Forested areas within the ski area are in a state of flux, with stand conditions expected to deteriorate year to year until the epidemic is over. It is projected that an average of 80 percent of the mature lodgepole pine could be lost in lodgepole dominated stands. Extensive loses of mature lodgepole pine are also expected in mixed conifer stands if the epidemic continues at its current pace. Conditions will likely continue to evolve, and any vegetation treatments need to adapt to these changing stand conditions while meeting management goals and objectives.

“The proposed treatments are designed to accommodate the changing conditions within the ski area. Some actions, such as hazard tree removal, may occur every year. Other treatments, such as clear cutting, may occur as single-year treatments and only when management requirements and conditions on the ground necessitate action. Treatments would meet the objectives of reducing risks to the public and ski area infrastructure from identified or potential hazard trees and enhancing the growth of new and existing forested areas to maintain a positive guest experience at the ski area in the long term. All proposed vegetation treatments are designed with consideration to recreation, wildlife, watershed, and scenic resource values.”

The EA is available at www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver (navigate to ‘Land & Resources Management’ then ‘Projects’) or at the Dillon Ranger District Office.  For more information or to request a hard copy of the EA, contact Peech Keller, phone 970-262-3495 or email: cpkeller@fs.fed.us.

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