Summit County: Keystone gets OK for forest health work

Salvage logging approved on about 1,600 acres at Colorado ski area

The mountain pine beetle epidemic has advanced far up the slopes of Keystone Mountain.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Keystone Ski Area has a green light to begin salvage logging and other forest restoration efforts across 1,648 acres at the resort as part of a project to reduce risks to the public and infrastructure from falling trees. The resort’s forest health project should also help increase lodgepole pine regeneration following the mountain pine beetle epidemic by removing dead, dying and susceptible trees, the Forest Service said in a press release announcing the go-ahead. Click here to read the White River forest supervisor’s decision.

The project was designed in collaboration with city and county governments, local fire departments, home owner associations and landowners, resulting in a project that has wide community support. It was approved under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

In a press release, the Forest Service explained that the pine beetle epidemic dramatically changed the landscape at Keystoen during the past few years. 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.

As in other parts of the county, up to 80 percent of the lodgepole pines are expected to succumb to the beetles, including areas where lodgepoles grow in mixed stands with other conifers. As a result, the resort and the Forest Service developed a plan that can be tweaked if conditions change. 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. All proposed vegetation treatments are designed with consideration to recreation, wildlife, watershed, and scenic resource values.

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.

The project documents are online at the White River National Forest website.

The view to the southwest from Keystone Mountain includes a pattern of beetle-killed forests and areas of healthy young trees on West Ridge in an area that was logged in the 1980s.

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