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Summit County: Logging traffic expected in Mesa Cortina

Logging crews are making progress clearing dead trees from Summit County.

Contractor clearing out beetle-killed trees

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Residents of Mesa Cortina and Wildernest can expect more logging traffic this winter, as a contractor removes trees cut during ongoing forest health and wildfire hazard mitigation work. The project, a part of the White River Wildland Urban Interface Stewardship project in Summit County.

Logging trucks will use Upper Royal Buffalo Drive, Twenty Grand Road, and the Ryan Gulch Road.

Please check the White River National Forest Alerts webpage for updated information.If you have any questions, please contact the Dillon Ranger District at 970-468-5400.

Guidelines to help avoid risk in beetle-kill areas (from the White River NF website):

  • Avoid dense patches of trees.  They can fall without warning.
  • Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds.  If you are in the forest and the winds kick up, head to a clearing out of reach of any trees.
  • Place campers and tents in areas where they will not be hit by a falling tree.
  • When driving in remote areas of the forest, park close to a main road rather than on a spur or one-way section.  If trees fall across the road you may be trapped.
  • Bring an axe or chainsaw to remove fallen trees if you become trapped.
  • Do not rely on cell phones for safety.  There is no coverage in many areas of the fores
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Forest health and water supplies are closely linked

Meadow Creek at peak runoff, June 2010. Some research suggests that runoff from beetle-killed forests will increase in the short-term.

March 10 Forest Health Task Force meeting to focus on the critical connections between forest management and water supplies

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The dramatic changes in the local forest landscapes have implications far beyond visual impacts. The death of nearly all the mature lodgepole stands in the area could very well alter the way the winter snowpack builds up, and subsequently, how it melts off in the spring.

Ranchers in the Lower Blue have already reported anecdotally on some of the changes they’ve seen in the past few years, and Forest Service researchers at the Fraser Experimental Forest also have a full slate of studies under way to determine how those changes will play out. Click here to read more about some of these potential changes.

The upcoming March 10 meeting of the Summit Forest Health Task Force will focus on the critical connection between forest health and water supplies. According to task force organizer Sandy Briggs, the goals of the roundtable are to increase awareness about the importance of forest vitality on local water supply and quality, to encourage discussion on what forest management practices would best achieve water supply and quality objectives, and to promote collaboration and understanding among stakeholders. Continue reading

USFS releases study on Breckenridge logging project

A Forest Service map shows proposed treatment areas spanning about 5,600 acres of beetle-damaged lodgepole pine stands.

District Ranger Jan Cutts outlines several alternatives for treating beetle-damaged lodgepole pine stands

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service has released its environmental analysis for the Breckenridge Forest Health and Fuels project, proposing extensive clear-cutting and other treatments across about 5,600 acres of public national forest land around the town.

The environmental analysis includes three alternatives: No-action, Alternative 2, proposing treatment on about 5,600 acres of lodgepole in the wildland-urban interface, and Alternative 3, a slightly scaled back version that would leave a buffer around sections of the Peaks Trail.
Alternative 3 was developed in response to comments from people living in areas that would affected by the logging, especially the Peak 7 neighborhood, where an active group of residents questioned the scope of the clear-cutting near their homes. It also calls for hand-felling of timber within the community protection zone, as opposed to mechanical harvesting. Continue reading

Summit wildfire council updates plan, awards grants

Wildfire mitigation and forest health efforts in Summit County have yielded results on more than 3,100 acres.

Latest grant cycle awards $258,000 to treat about 184 acres across Summit County

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The local wildfire council Wednesday afternoon adopted a revised version of the community wildfire protection plan and awarded about $258,000 in grants to help reduce the threat of wildfires in neighborhoods around the county.

The updated version of the wildfire plan will continue to be a model statewide and around the country, said County Commissioner Bob French.

The original plan was adopted in 2006 and the county, together with the U.S. Forest Service, has treated about 3.7 square miles, or more than 2,382 acres, under  guidelines that focus on high-priority areas.

New language emphasizes identification of high-risk areas, as well as public education, implementation and funding. It also includes an expanded community overview, as well as detailed community protection assessment maps, with information on fuel hazards and risks to essential infrastructure and community values.

One of the biggest changes is a new emphasis on preventing the spread of invasive plants in treated areas, said assistant county manager Steve Hill.

The grants awarded ranged from about $5,000 for a couple of smaller one to eight-acre projects, all the way up to $122,000 for a 36-acre project at Summit Estates.

The cost-per-acre also varied widely, from about $500 per acre for an eight-acre project at Riverwood, to about $6,600 per acre for a project on some steep hillsides in the Warrior’s Mark neighborhood. The Keystone Ranch neighborhood won a $22,000 grant, and the Lewis Ranch subdivision at Copper Mountain also garnered $17,000 for a seven-acre project, at a cost of about $4,800 per acre.

Several other projects were denied, mostly because they were outside the targeted focus areas. Other areas were eliminated in a pre-screening process, said Jeff Berino, of Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

Forest Service officials also outlined plans for a far-reaching forest treatment project at Keystone Ski Area, pointing out that the agency only garnered a few public comments from Summit County on the proposal.

The wildfire council also took another look at the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal. While some local officials are still leery of how the plan could affect firefighting efforts, the council ultimately decided that the plan won’t present a significant problem.

“I hear the firefighters in the room saying … the Hidden Gems plan, as drafted, won’t hinder local efforts to fight fires or do restoration,” said wildfire council chair Bob French, before the council passed a motion to that effect.

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