Xcel replaces powerlines deep in Arapaho back country | SkyHiNews.com

Xcel replaces powerlines deep in Arapaho back country

If you have been hiking, camping or otherwise recreating in southern Grand County over the last few weeks you might have noticed the unmistakable pop of helicopter rotors.

A team of helicopter pilots has been working with construction crews since late June on a power pole replacement project for Xcel Energy in the Arapaho National Forest. The work is being conducted in the Jones Pass/Williams Fork area of both Clear Creek and Grand County, within both the Sulphur and Clear Creek Ranger Districts.

According to information available on the U.S. Forest Service's web site for the Arapaho National Forest, work on the power pole replacement project started on June 20. Work on the project is expected to continue throughout the summer and fall, ending sometime in November.

"The public should be aware that Xcel Energy will be using helicopters to complete this work and that there will be short term traffic stops on Jones Pass Road as well as temporary trail and trailhead closures," states a press release from the Forest Service. "The Butler Gulch Trail on the Clear Creek Ranger District will be closed during the week during pole replacement. The Darling Creek Trailhead and access to the Darling Creek Trail and South Fork Trail on the Sulphur Ranger District will have temporary closures during pole replacement."

The Forest Service states both the South Fork and Sugarloaf Campgrounds in southwestern Grand County, south of the Henderson Mill Complex, will remain open during construction efforts this summer season.

From the bottom of Berthoud Pass in Clear Creek County the power line runs south for a short distance before cutting west northwest up and over Jones Pass. From Jones Pass the power line drops down onto the surrounding mountain slopes. The line then turns north, crosses over Jones Pass Road and continues northwest towards St. Louis Pass.

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The power line turns west sharply just a short distance south of St. Louis Pass. From there the line heads almost directly due west as it cuts through the wilderness towards Williams Fork and the Sugarloaf Campground area.

To view the current Forest Service updates on the project, and other construction projects impacting the Arapaho National Forest, check out the Forest's "Know Before You Go: Projects on the Sulphur Ranger District" web page. The web address is, http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=stelprdb5377130.

The web page also provides a map of the pole replacement project area.

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