Beetle kill removal denudes popular Grand Lake park
Grand County, Colorado
“It’s sad, huh,” citizen Kathy Lewis said about Point Park on Grand Lake’s shoreline.
Once where a fairy-tale grove of trees stood witness to countless weddings along the alpine-blue water, the park is now nearly devoid of trees.
Lewis and her husband Randy were married there in 1989. It was believed to be the first wedding at the little park.
Upon seeing Point Park after the U.S. Forest Service cleared it recently, “I wanted to cry,” Lewis said.
“It was so sad. It was such a beautiful place.”
The absence of trees has opened the park to a more commanding view of Mount Craig (“Baldy”) and cleared the area of beetle-damaged trees; nevertheless, Grand Lakers mourn the loss of shady woodland.
At least 200 trees have been taken out, according to Dan Matthews, manager of the Arapaho National Recreation Area.
After it was cleared, slash riddled the park landscape; stumps remained, rising from the barren ground.
“The parking lot was a mess and so was the walkway down to the lake,” Lewis said.
Just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, however, the tree-removal crew from Oregon ” the company awarded the bid from the Forest Service ” returned to the park and removed the slash and debris.
The town of Grand Lake has an operating agreement with the Forest Service and is responsible for park restrooms but is now looking into how it can help restore the park.
For starters, stumps need to be reduced or removed, said Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke.
The Forest Service has been cutting down trees in Point Park ever since the onset of the beetle epidemic, but because of lodepole pine trees’ shallow root system and their tendency to stay protected from the wind in large stands, the loss of many trees forced foresters to take out the remainder for safety.
“When we cut out too many trees, the remaining trees are more susceptible to being blown over by the wind,” Matthews said.
Those in the Grand Lake area have noticed the same jolting transformation at the U.S. Forest Service’s Stillwater and Green Ridge campgrounds.
“It’s always a shock,” Matthews said. “Honestly, nobody wanted to lose those trees less than the Forest Service. We wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t a public safety issue.”
Matthew added that the U.S. Forest Service is open to coordinating with the town any future replantings and stump management at Point Park.
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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