Risk of falling trees curtails Christmas tree cutting program on Dillon Ranger District
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — On top of all the grief the mountain pine beetles have already caused, they are now playing the role of the Grinch in Summit County, as the potential risk of falling dead trees has caused the U.S. Forest Service to suspend its Christmas tree cutting program. The agency also said the overall availability of trees also factored into the decision.
“We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to offer this popular program this year,” said Dillon District Ranger Jan Cutts. “It is our hope that some of the currently implemented Forest Fuels and Health projects on the Dillon District will mitigate the overhead hazards increasingly found in areas that are suitable for the Christmas Tree Cutting program. We hope to be up and running next year with a safe and sustainable program.”
Cutts said the tree-cutting program operated under a special program that designates certain areas for cutting and allows the agency to charge a fee as long as the revenue goes back into the area that it’s collected in. The Forest Service gave some thought to opening the entire district to tree-cutting to avoid any potential liability issues associated with charging a fee for a specific area, which could imply that the activity is “safe.”
Cutts said she hopes the current forest health projects will enable the agency to open tree-cutting areas in future years.
But this year, the Dillon Ranger District determined that areas suitable for Christmas tree cutting remain unsafe due to the presence of hazard trees. The Forest Service will be taking a closer look at suitable locations and populations of lodgepole pine for future Christmas Tree Cutting programs as Forest Fuels and Forest Health projects are implemented across the Dillon Ranger District.
Christmas tree cutting programs are still active across much of the White River National Forest and other area National Forests. Summit County residents may look to Christmas Tree Cutting programs found on the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest, the Leadville and South Park Ranger Districts of the Pike/San Isabel National Forest and the Sulphur and Clear Creek Ranger Districts of the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest. Links to area National Forests for additional information about Christmas Tree Cutting and specific district cutting programs can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/. If you have further questions or need additional information you can contact the Dillon Ranger District at (970) 468-5400.
More info on tree-cutting:
Christmas tree cutting is allowed in most areas on the White River National Forest with the following exceptions: wilderness areas, commercial timber sales, recreation and ski areas, administrative areas, Glenwood Canyon, and No Name Road (near Camp Hale). Maps showing where Christmas tree cutting is allowed are available at all offices where permits are sold. Permits cost $10.00 each and may be purchased with cash, check or money order. There is a limit of ten permits per individual. The permits must be attached to the tree prior to cutting and must be left on the tree until it arrives at its final destination.
Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District – Permits will be available beginning Monday, November 22 at both the Eagle Ranger Station, 125 W. 5th Street in Eagle, or at the Holy Cross Ranger Station, 24747 US Highway 24 in Minturn. Both the Eagle Ranger Station and the Holy Cross Ranger Station will be open Monday through Friday during normal business hours. The Minturn office will also be open Saturday December 4, and December 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 970-328-6388 or 970-827-5715 for additional information.
Aspen and Sopris Ranger Districts – Permits will be available beginning Monday, November 22 at the Aspen Ranger Station located at 806 West Hallam Street in Aspen, and Sopris Ranger Station located at 620 Main Street in Carbondale. In both cases permits may be purchased Monday through Friday during normal office hours. Call 970-925-3445 or 970-963-2266 for additional information.
Rifle Ranger District – The Rifle Ranger Station is located at 0094 County Road 244 in Rifle. Permits are currently available at this location Monday through Friday during normal office hours. Call 970-625-2371 for additional information.
Blanco Ranger District — The Blanco Ranger Station is located at 220 East Market Street in Meeker. Permits are currently available at this location Monday through Friday during regular officer hours. Call 970-878-5173 for additional information.
Glenwood Springs – Christmas tree permits may be obtained at the White River Forest Supervisor’s Office, located at 900 Grand Avenue Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM beginning on Monday, November 22. Call 970-945-2521 for additional information.