Area affected by Silver Creek Fire eyed for fuels reduction project

Areas around the Red Dirt Reservoir which were originally slated for a vegetation management project have been burned by the Silver Creek Fire and will no longer be a part of the project.

KREMMLING — Portions of the Arapaho and Routt National Forests that burned in the Silver Creek Fire this summer have now been identified for a U.S. Forest Service project to reduce fuels in the area.

The Red Vista Fuels Reduction Project is a proposed project to remove beetle-kill trees and wildfire fuel, as well as promote forest regrowth, on 1,731 acres north of Gore Pass, adjacent to and along Forest Service Road 100 and northwest of Kremmling.

After the Silver Creek Fire this summer, which burned over 20,000 acres and cost over $30 million, the project is an important step in protecting the homes and property in the area.

“We will be removing dead trees, we’ll be doing fuels work on the ground in some areas and we’ll also be doing timber sales in other plots and hand treatments in some of the areas around Old Park,” Acting Yampa District Ranger Brian McKinney said.

The Forest Service identified this area because of the high density of lodgepole pine that have been heavily impacted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

The project will also help improve the fuel breaks firefighters created to contain the Silver Creek Fire near Latigo Ranch on Forest Service Road 250, on County Road 17 and near Old Park.

At an open house on Tuesday night in Kremmling, McKinney said the Forest Service received positive feedback about the project and no suggestions for changes, so they will be moving forward with the proposal.

“They’re happy that we’re going out there and working with the land and working with downed trees,” McKinney said, “so no negative comments that we received during that meeting.”

The project was originally a vegetation management project on 3,000 acres of forest land, but the fire eliminated some of the proposed treatments in the area near Red Dirt Reservoir.

While the project has been refocused to reduce fuels, it will also address the effects of declined forest health, improve access by removing downed trees and reduce public safety risks by getting rid of dead snags, trees that is missing its top or smaller branches.

McKinney said some goals of the project are to promote forest resilience and timber sales. The project will also hopefully help reduce the costs of any future wildfires in the area.

Since the project is still a proposal, the next step will be to get approval. Though McKinney said he is unsure when the project would be approved, he said the Forest Service is looking at implementing the project sometime late 2019 or 2020.

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