Grand County’s choice of logging firm raises hackles | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County’s choice of logging firm raises hackles

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Grand County commissioners signed a contract with Cecil Logging, based out of California, for its major forest management plan Tuesday.

But not without opposition.

Local logger Bruce Kholway announced that he felt slighted.

The county Division of Natural Resources did not contact his or other local logging companies to bid on the project, he said.

Kholway is the same logger to whom the county chose to deny issuing a burn permit with him as acting burn boss. Kholway told commissioners that he has other plans for removing slash material, and does not need a permit anyway.

But he opposed being denied a permit in the 2008 season for a violation that occurred in 2007.

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The county’s forest management project is designed to remove every dead or dying lodgepole pine trees, 4 inches in diameter or larger, along the majority of the county’s primary rights of ways over a five-year period. Trees will be removed 20 feet from the edge of road shoulders.

An upcoming two-week period, for which Cecil Logging is contracted, launches the county’s overall tree plan.

This year’s phase is paid for by last-minute 2007 funds in the amount of $40,000, issued by the Forest Service in lieu of taxes known as Title 3 money.

Preliminary work will focus on the Fraser Valley and must be completed by Dec. 31 to take advantage of the appropriated funds.

For this reason, the division was “under the gun to get this thing rolling” said Grand County Division of Natural Resources Foreman Jennifer Murray. The county advertised the need for logging proposals in the paper, Murray said, and chose Cecil Logging for its mulching capabilities.

To comply with its forest management plan, the county sought large-scale loggers who have “certain equipment to masticate on-site,” Murray said, meaning the division wanted loggers equipped to grind and mulch the forest slash into small pieces immediately after logs are cut.

This eliminates issues that surround transferring material and piling it somewhere else to be burned, she said.

“This way, we don’t have to burn it, don’t have to haul it. It leaves the carbon there on-site, and protects the soil from erosion.”

As far as Kholway’s complaint that local loggers were not given a chance, Murray said it was her understanding that his company was not capable of mulching material on site.

“In discussion with him a week before, (Kholway) did not have that equipment,” she said.

But Kholway, claiming he operates “one of the largest companies in the county,” said he could do the job just as fast and efficiently as any other company and would have appreciated the opportunity to prove it.

The 2008 tree removal project will be more substantial with more funds available, and the county will be going through the full proposal process, according to Murray.

“I look forward to hearing from companies interested in doing further right-of-way treatments for 08,” she said.

Around February, the bid meeting will be posted on the Division of Natural Resources Web site as soon as it is scheduled.

During next year’s phase of the project, the county plans to finish tree cutting along roads in the Fraser Valley and in the Three Lakes Area.

2008 budget adopted

Grand County commissioners adopted the 2008 budget Tuesday, but continued the public hearing to accommodate the Grand County Housing Authority budget, following a workshop on the Authority next Tuesday, Dec. 18, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

That final component of the budget is then slated for adoption at 4:30 p.m.

Total expenditures and revenues on the 2008 Grand County budget are $58,628,181, with a set mill levy at 15.155 mills, which has not changed from last year.

A more in-depth story about the Grand County budget will appear in an upcoming issue.

County vacates property

During a continuation of a public hearing, Hot Sulphur Springs property owner Carl Borgstrom remedied an oversight he’d had pertaining to his land ” land that may be committed to a large-scale conservation easement.

Attempts to form the conservation easement near Hot Sulphur Springs through the Middle Park Land Trust were stalled last week due to language in a 1974 county resolution. Commissioners continued last week’s public hearing, giving Borgstrom the chance to reverse violations to a “reverter clause,” stated in the resolution.

Borgstrom’s property formerly was the Ideal Park Subdivision originally platted in 1912. The subdivision was never developed because of inadequate lots and little consideration for topography.

The county offered 1,040 lots from a tax deed in the mid-1970s in public sale. When sold, the Quit Claim Deed by resolution contained the reverter clause to protect future habitants of the property. The original subdivision plat was considered poorly designed.

When Borgstrom violated that clause by separating the property into four individual LLCs, the property reverted to the ownership of the county.

Borgstrom returned to the commissioner board room yesterday and informed the board that the land in question had returned to the single ownership of Aspen Ridge LLC; thusly, commissioners quit claimed any interest it had.

For road vacations sought by the owner to progress toward establishing a conservation easement, the public hearing was continued until 8 a.m. next Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Housing Authority faces shortfall

Not all towns are supporting the Housing Authority in the intergovernmental agreements established by the towns. During a discussion about the Housing Authority budget, director Jim Sheehan informed commissioners that certain funding partners bowing out may mean limited operations.

Pre-development of new projects, and the administration of the down-payment assistance program may be affected by less funding in 2008, according to Sheehan.

“We may not be able to administer the deed restrictions as we’ve been requested to do,” he said.

Kremmling is not funding the authority in 2008 due to capital projects under way; neither is Hot Sulphur Springs.

Meanwhile, Grand Lake is in for its full share, as are the towns of Winter Park and Fraser and Winter Park Resort.

Granby is partially supplying its housing authority share, outlined in the IGA.

Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink-Curran said the Housing Authority may be able to adjust to the budget shortfall by making cost-saving adjustments in administration. The authority is already saving money by having its office in the county building and by having access to county resources. A housing authority workshop next Tuesday prior to the adoption of the budget is scheduled to address the authority’s budget details.

Tourism budget set

The Grand County Tourism Board members presented their 2008 budget to commissioners, which was passed last week. The tourism board collects the county lodging tax of 1.8 percent, with an estimated 2007 year-end total of $484,752.

This total exceeded the projected amount of 475,000 budgeted last year.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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