Colorado: Hazard tree removal along major highways

Roadside logging is under way in the Colorado high country, as the Forest Service partners with CDOT to remove hazard trees along key highways.

Logging to continue into autumn

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Travelers in the Colorado high country may encounter a few delays and lane closures as the Forest Service and CDOT partner to clear beetle-killed trees from along major highways.

“Ensuring these major transportation corridors are clear of dead trees is certainly critical to keeping people safe and traffic flowing,” said Cal Wettstein, Rocky Mountain region incident commander for the Forest Service.

Work has already started along I-70 in Summit County and motorists can expect to see more tree removal along US Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass and State Hwy. 125. The dead trees pose a threat to public safety as they weaken over time and may fall without warning along these popular transportation routes.

“Public safety is our top priority, in addition to reducing the risk of falling trees that may damage critical infrastructure,” Wettstein said.

Most work will take place on National Forest System lands within the CDOT right-of way in the counties of Jackson, Grand, Clear Creek, Eagle, and Summit which are located on the Routt, Arapaho-Roosevelt, and White River National Forests, respectively. No roads will be closed to the public operations, but lane closures and temporary delays for public safety during tree cutting operations are a possibility along routes.

“With so many dead trees near highways, crews will be working in the right-of-ways but will try to keep road closures to a minimum,” said CDOT regional transportation director David Eller. “We ask motorists to drive slowly and carefully through the work zones, and thank them for their patience since this work is essential to keeping the public safe.”

Motorists should expect to see piles of debris close to right-of ways including trunks, tops, and limbs, piled on projects sites in addition to stacks of log decks. Wood products taken from project sites will be utilized by the wood products industry. Please see below for a schedule of when and where cutting will take place:

•    Cutting began along the south sides of the 1-70 corridor for approximately 31 miles in July and is in the final stages of completion.
•    Cutting began along US40 near Empire, CO on August 8th and will continue for 27 miles towards Winter Park, CO for approximately 30 days.
•    Cutting on either side of Highway 125 will begin in September between Stillwater Pass Road on Willow Creek Pass, and continue for 14 miles ending just before the town of Rand, CO.

Appropriate resource protection measures are in place and being monitored to protect wildlife habitat, culture sites, riparian areas, and to minimize the spread of noxious or invasive weeds. Lodgepole pine will be the tree species primarily cut, however ponderosa, Engelmann spruce, and subalpine fir may be cut as needed.


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