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Colorado: Hazard tree removal along major highways

Roadside logging is under way in the Colorado high country, as the Forest Service partners with CDOT to remove hazard trees along key highways.

Logging to continue into autumn

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Travelers in the Colorado high country may encounter a few delays and lane closures as the Forest Service and CDOT partner to clear beetle-killed trees from along major highways.

“Ensuring these major transportation corridors are clear of dead trees is certainly critical to keeping people safe and traffic flowing,” said Cal Wettstein, Rocky Mountain region incident commander for the Forest Service.

Work has already started along I-70 in Summit County and motorists can expect to see more tree removal along US Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass and State Hwy. 125. The dead trees pose a threat to public safety as they weaken over time and may fall without warning along these popular transportation routes. Continue reading

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Forests: Red, dead needles burn faster

Researchers continue to pinpoint the fire risk associated with beetle-killed trees.

New study helps quantify ignition time of beetle-killed trees

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Chemical changes in pine attacked by bark beetles start as soon as two weeks after the bugs start to burrow under the bark and make the trees more prone to ignition.

Overall, beetle-killed trees in the early and mid-stages of infestation may pose a greater risk of fast-spreading crown fires, though other factors are also important, including the structure of the tree, the presence or absence of ground and ladder fuels and terrain and weather. Continue reading

Summit County: Sections of recpath to close for tree work

Short closures enhance public safety

Summit County.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Some sections of the recpath will be closed intermittently the next few weeks as crews remove hazard trees that could fall down across the path.

“This work is critical to maintaining a safe facility,” said Brad Eckert, Open Space and Trails Resource Specialist.  “We thank the Recpath and natural surface trail users for their patience during these operations.”

The work is scheduled to begin May 21 and continue for approximately 3 weeks.  A Cut Above Forestry will complete the work on behalf of the County. Continue reading

Experts surprised by intense fires in beetle-killed stands

Montana wildfire observations will increase understanding of fire behavior in changing Western forests

The Saddle Complex fire burned so intensely that it created its own weather, which further fueled the fire. PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE MILLIGAN.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Fire experts said they were surprised by the intensity of a pair of fires that burned in Montana this summer during less-than-extreme fire weather. The fire moved through areas of beetle-killed lodgepole faster than some previous fire modeling suggested.

The rapid spread of the two fires was probably the result of a perfect mix of fuels, including recent  beetle-killed lodgepole pine with flammable red needles, stands of older beetle-kill in the gray stage. Live trees and an a full-grown understory that provided ladder fuels.

The observations could help experts gain a better understanding of how fires will behave in beetle-killed forests. Some previous fire observations, in Yellowstone, for example, suggested that pure stands of dead gray-stage lodgepoles could actually slow the spread of a blaze, and some fire modeling has also suggested that the gray trees are not as susceptible to fire. Continue reading

Summit County: Tree-clearing to begin on Peaks Trail

Forest Service continues hazard tree removal

A tree-felling crew from Buena Vista gathers at the North Tenmile Creek trail before setting out to cut hazardous trees.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The popular Peaks Trail, between Frisco and Breckenridge, and the Gold Hill Trail are next up for hazard tree removal, with work set to begin Oct. 5.

The work is expected to continue through October and November or as long as weather permits. The contractor will work Monday through Friday each week, but will not operate on weekends.

Operations on the Peaks Trail will occur between the south trailhead on Ski Hill Road near Breckenridge to the Second Avenue Trailhead in Frisco. Operations on the Gold Hill Trail will occur between the trailhead located at the intersection of Colorado Highway 9 and Gateway Drive. (CR 950) and continue to the intersection with the Peaks Trail.  Continue reading

White River NF chief visits forest health task force

The scale of the beetle-kill in Summit County is evident in this picture, from the trees along the shore of Dillon Reservoir to high up the slopes of the Ten Mile Range. Click on the image for the full-size view.

Fitzwilliams to discuss forest health plans at Jan. 13 meeting in Frisco

SUMMIT COUNTY — White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams isn’t afraid to talk about ecosystem restoration on a landscape scale. One of his recent initiatives includes a project in the Roaring Fork Valley that includes re-introducing fire to the landscape as a way of improving wildlife habitat.

Fitzwilliams will share his vision of a healthy, sustainable forest at the Jan.13 meeting of the forest health task force, set for 7:30 a.m. at the Frisco Community Center.

As the featured speaker, Fitzwilliams will lead a discussion about ongoing and planned initiatives to improve the condition of a forest devastated by a bark beetle infestation that has already destroyed three million acres of lodgepole pine trees in the state. He will  emphasize the role of public-private partnerships in addressing the increased risk of catastrophic wildfire due to high fuel loading both in the backcountry and its adjacent wildland-urban interface. Continue reading

Summit County: Another crack at biofuel?

A gasification achematic from theU.S. Department of Energy.

Gasification of wood chips may provide clean, affordable power for community facilities

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —A Littleton-based company says it may have a partial solution to Summit County’s ever-growing piles of slash and woodchips.

Community Power Corporation (CPC) builds modular gasification units that convert wood chips and other biomass into fuel to generate electricity without a lot of emissions, and next week, the company will meet with Summit County officials to figure out if there are some community facilities that could benefit from the system. Continue reading

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