Summit County: Clearcutting the Frisco Peninsula

Major logging operations continue in beetle-kill areas

One of the few lodgepole seedlings to survive the industrial clearcutting on the north shore of the Frisco Peninsula.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Logging crews have worked their way around the Frisco Peninsula to the northeast-facing shore and are cutting down to within a few feet of the trail and the boundary with Denver Water land. The logging is several miles away from the nearest neighborhood. There are no power lines in the area, and no streams, although the clear-cutting could protect Dillon Reservoir from the direct impacts of a fire in that particular area. Here’s a look at how it’s going.

Before: Plenty of healthy grasses, forbs and shrubs, along with young lodgepole pines two to three feet tall.
This little pine seedling got in the way of one of the logging trucks.
This one looks like it may bounce back, even after being run over several times.
For perspective, here's the area adjacent to the logging operation. It won't be long until this area looks like ...
... this. Healthy forest "restoration."
Pre-cutting, with natural forest regeneration under way; healthy groundcover, widely spaced and open lodgepole canopy letting in sunlight to fuel seedling growth ...
Here's the road from the Dickey Point trail head leading to the area in the previous photos. Forest Service officials say no erosion control measures are required during the logging process, and that's good, because there aren't any to be seen anywhere in this project area. If will look much better in the next few weeks as crews reclaim the road after the tree-cutting is down.
Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Summit County's forests.
Logging on the Peninsula, Sept. 2011.



5 thoughts on “Summit County: Clearcutting the Frisco Peninsula

  1. That is soo sad! The forest service did their best to trample everything at the West end of the North Trail as well. There isn’t as much Lodgepole regeneration, but the raspberry patches were decimated. Anyhow, keep reporting please. The public needs to know that the local logging operations are very heavy handed.

  2. The Ophir Mountian project is next up. It will cut the forest between Frisco an Breckenridge on the right side of the road going to Breck. The “treatment” of this 1,500 acres will be an industrial “clear cut with leave trees”. In practice, as seen in the peninsula, very few tress will be left. This will displace an elk herd, distroy lynx habitat and have a large negatie impact on the scenery in this highly used corridor.

    Included in this project are industrial clear cuts around rainbow lake.

  3. Industrial logging? This is costing us taxpayers $1200/acre to do. I agree Bob, enviros should have been litigating this to death and stopping this. It’s nothing but a subsidy for Colorado enviros who are worried about fire hazard. Instead, your property taxes should have been assesed to do this. Let’s call it ” adopt a clearcut”.

    Because you ran off the timber industry in the 90’s, it’s costing us taxpayers tens of millons of dollars just to clear the 1300 miles of “roads” on the WRNF. Around $1200/acre once again. In Montana, which still has a timber industry, the loggers just “PAID” the Helena NF $300/acre for the rights to cut the hazard trees. Maybe you should do a story about “why it costs so much”? One has to wonder how much cheaper it would have been if the mill in Walden and the OSB mill in Kremmling were still active. I do believe they were run off over the issue of “below cost timber sales”. Well, I’d say $1200/acre is a hell of a below cost timber sale.

    What also upsets me is us taxpayers subsidizing your “trail clearing”. I think there is what, 500 miles of trails to clear. it dawned on me awhile back, that in 10 years, your trails are going to be barricaded by deadfall. I would imagine that most “trailheads” are located in the lodgepole zone and not the Spruce zone. I know you’ll be advocating that no trails are to be cleared by the USFS: I’ll allow volunteer labor.

    As for the poor “saplings” that are being run over- wouldn’t they have just burned in 10-20 years with the incredible fuel loading? Now the new ones that will regenerate will be safe from wildfire because we both know that clearcuts don’t burn. You need to be showing the public some photos of 20 year old regenerated clearcuts so they can see what the penninsula will look like in 20 years. There’s several 20 year old “patch clearcuts ” within shouting distance of your photos. You should also be showing the public photos of recent burns. If nature can recover from a wildfire-it sure as hell can recover from a clearcut.

    Then you should be showing the public some photos of freshly “hand falled” (not feller bunched) clearcuts, so they can see a simulated version of “what their future forests” will look like when they become deadfall. I’ll e-mail you one I took last summer. You still suffer from “ghost forest” syndrome.

    Your attitude is the reason all these proposals by radical enviros, from the CBD in Arizona to the WildEarth Gaurdians at Santa Fe, to log more in the name of reducing fire hazard, will fail. Any “potential” investors in the infrastructure needed to implement these plans knows that once the eggs start to get broken-enviros like you will start whining and opposing and threateneing lawsuits all over again. You wanted natural, I think you should wallow in it.

    Anyway-No offense Bob-love you photos-you’re a good man.

    1. How much more are the trees worth in Montana? Unfortunately, the biggest reason there isn’t much logging industry in Colorado is the trees aren’t worth much. Lodgepole Pine are good for fence posts, telephone poles, and biomass. If “trees” in Montana are good for making boards, 2×4’s, etc. than it’s cheaper because they are making more $$ at the mill.

      “Wouldn’t they have burned in 10-20 years with the incredible fuel loading”. In most places the forest structure is completely different. With the “forest service” logging around Vail, they are making piles and burning them in concentrated areas. Over in Summit it looks like they are piling the trees up in concentrated areas. Humans will work hard to prevent a wider area fire of standing trees that would lead to natural regeneration. The concentrated burns won’t produce the mass reproduction which lead to “dog hair stands” of Lodgepole or like after the 90’s? fire in Yellowstone where the trees came up like grass. Without mass reproduction, those small Lodgepole seedlings that are emerging from the beetle kill may be much more important to the forest future.

      In terms of global warming a more durable forest is emerging with widely spaced trees. The current fuel loading is mostly small brush. If the Lodgepole have enough time to mature, they will survive a small brush fire. It’s the dense forests like historical dog hair Lodgepole pine that suffer crown fires. The trees will be more likely to survive future fires with the park like forest structure with lots of space between trees.

    2. The standing dead lodgepole create a perfect canopy for propagation of diverse new growth. Clear cutting will lead to more mono species forests- only those that can survive the intense sun and dry conditions after a clear cut. We can all watch those clear cuts turn back into dense thick stands of lodgepole. For some reason we think we can out smart nature by hurrying up the process of getting rid of those dead trees, but were just screwing it up.

      If we want to spend money on fire prevention we should be burying all our distribution power lines.

      And clearing trails of deadfall will be ongoing for a long time. I spend a couple weeks each year getting after it with hand saws. Many times aborting ski and bike outings, but it does keep my guns in shape.

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