Public meeting on Breckenridge forest health plan set for Feb. 10, 6 – 8 p.m. at Breckenridge Town Hall
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service has set a Feb. 10 public meeting to present its latest version of the Breckenridge forest health project.
Forest experts with the Dillon Ranger district said they’re prepared to present a detailed version of the plan that includes modifications made to address some of the concerns raised by the public.
The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session, and the agency is also prepared to take another round of written comments on the plan, with a deadline of Feb. 16.
As initially proposed, the project focuses on reducing fire risks and forest regeneration within wildland-urban interface areas affected by mountain pine beetles. In its scoping notice for the project, the Dillon Ranger District identified 5,700 acres of forest extending from Farmers Corner on the north, to the Golden Horseshoe on the east, to Hoosier Pass on the south, and along the base of the Ten Mile Range on the west that could benefit from some kind of treatment.
Planning for the project is based on collaboration with Breckenridge, the Breckenridge Fire Department, Summit County Open Space, homeowners’ associations and private landowners in the area.
Since then, a group of homeowners in the Peak 7 neighborhood has raised concerns about the extent of treatments in that area, especially about some of the clear cuts proposed near homes and trails. In comments to the agency, the homeowner have asked that the project focus more narrowly on a defensible space component, with treatments aimed at areas directly adjacent to homes and roads.
Forest Service officials have twice met with residents for field trips to explain the project and take input, focusing on up-front collaboration. Agency experts have said the early maps for the project will be refined to show more specific treatment options for various areas — where wetland will be avoided and where stands of existing spruce and fir trees may have a foothold.
The rangers have said they’re working to balance neighborhood concerns with what needs to be done for long-term forest health on a landscape level.
Read a previous Summit Voice story describing the Forest Service’s collaborative approach here.