Breckenridge, Copper and Arapahoe Basin don’t have any specific proposals for forest health work in the pipeline, but will remove hazard trees as part of their routine summer maintenance plan
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — May 3 marks the deadline for commenting on an extensive forest health project at Keystone Ski Area, where pine beetles have killed lodgepole pines across hundreds of acres of terrain within the resort boundary.
Based on a detailed vegetation management plan developed over the past year, the resort and Forest Service want to carry out a range of treatments across the ski area, with a focus on removing hazard trees that could pose a threat to people and resort installations like lifts and restaurants.
The other main goal is to help spur new growth across areas where beetles have killed most of the trees. The Forest Service says it will use an adaptive management strategy to address the evolving pine beetle infestation.
Some areas could be clearcut, while other will see more selective logging. The agency hopes to have the project approved in time to start logging and restoration at the end of next season.
Read a more detailed Summit Voice story, including an interview with the project leader, here.
Forest Service documents for the proposal, including a full-size version of the map, are online here.
Forest Service officials said there are no current plans to launch similar comprehensive forest health projects at the other three ski areas in Summit County.
A-Basin’s altitude means the forest is mostly comprised of spruce and fir, so the current pine beetle epidemic won’t have nearly as great an impact.
The pine beetles have made their biggest inroads at Keystone — that’s why the area is being targeted with the comprehensive proposal, said White River National Forest spokesman Pat Thrasher.
“In terms of forest health and hazard trees, we’ve always got a concern with hazard trees in all our developed areas … but there is a difference when some of the responsibility lies with the ski areas,” Thrasher said.
The agency previously announced an all-out effort to tackle hazard trees at campgrounds, trailheads and other national forest facilities where visitors could be at risk.
Breckenridge and Copper Mountain will do some work inside their normal summer operation plans, Thrasher said.
“Breckenridge and Copper and the Forest Serive recognize there are hazard trees, and will do some work,” he said.