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Summit County: Light-on-the-land logging?

Welcome to the Forest Service’s idea of forest ‘restoration’ in a popular recreation area, where there were good signs of regeneration

Heavy duty logging is under way at the Old Dillon Reservoir trailhead in Summit County, Colorado, between Frisco and Dillon.

SUMMIT COUNTY — During an early morning dog-walking session along the Dillon Dam Road, I drove past the Old Dillon Reservoir trailhead and did a quick double-take. After previous thinning and some selective cutting, the Forest Service has apparently decided to go back and finish off what was left of the forest in that area once and for all.

I now have a much better sense of why people in the Peak 7 neighborhood are so concerned about the proposed Breckenridge fuels treatment project proposed for their neighborhood. That project, by the way, was still pending final review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as of a few weeks ago.

I understand that there is a lot of industrial-scale work planned around the Old Dillon Reservoir enlargement and I followed the NEPA process pretty closely, scrutinizing the maps and speaking frequently with Forest Service and county officials about the plan.

Even after all that, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw at the trailhead this morning. Bluntly, it’s almost unrecognizable. In an area that was showing significant signs of regeneration, with young lodgepoles growing at the rate of at least six to 12 inches per year, there is now only compacted earth and a double-wide logging road leading to the slopes above.

It’s going to be a long time before this area is suitable for recreation again.

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3 Responses

  1. The Forest Service has proposed a similar clear cut from Ophir mountain all the way to the Whatley Ranch in Breck. A 1,700 acre clear cut with 9.3 miles of new logging roads. It is overreach in an area with mixed lodgepole mortality, and healthy stands of sprice, fir and aspen.

    The forest servcie should be focusing on protecting infrastructure and selective cuts in Wildland Urban Interfaces. They should not be clear cutting deep into a forest, which is regenerating naturally.

    Interestingly, the Ophir clear cut is below Peaks 2 thru 5.

  2. is the bark boring beetle fight still ongoing? I talked to a US park ranger at evans who was describing a pretty serious situation that required a lot of loss.
    I’m just thinking that preemptive measures may be necessary.
    (I didn’t see that stretch of land so I’m just playing devil’s advocate in hopes that US forest has good interests at heart)

    • Hi Ed, it is a bark beetle logging site, but they just nuked it. Clear-cutting is never pretty, but I’m thinking the operation here was particularly heavy handed and may actually impede restoration and regrowth. There was actually a lot new lodgepole growing up between the old dead trees, but now that it’s been worked over by graders ….

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