Forest service seeks public input on hazard trees
Once approved, a plan for clearing hazard trees along roads and trails through the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest (ARNF) will begin in summer 2010.
“We are addressing public safety issues where our roads go through national forest,” says District Ranger Craig Magwire, who leads the Sulphur Ranger District headquartered in Granby. “We have the issue of trees falling across roads and striking individuals and vehicles, or blocking exits.”
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that a team of specialists evaluate the environmental impact of the hazard tree removal proposal. Once the analysis is complete, the ARNF will prioritize roads and trails where work will begin. The public is encouraged to mail or e-mail comments, says Magwire.
“We would like to hear which roads people think should be top priority, and also how far back (on either side of the road/trail) we should go,” he said. Work is anticipated to start on the most heavily traveled roads like Vasquez Creek, Stillwater Pass, or Church Park Road, for example.
The plan calls for hazard trees within 110 percent of the height of the tallest tree from the edge of the road or trail to be removed adjacent to National Forest roads, and other roads that cross the ARNF. Tree cutting will take place on National Forest land. When possible, trees will be turned into marketable products like sawlogs, firewood and biomass. Public comments on cost-effective ways to deal with slash are also welcome.
The salvage operation mostly affects lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees, and small numbers of Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and aspen.
The hazard tree removal project comes after a decade of mountain pine beetle mitigation. “We are now entering the public safety phase,” Magwire explains. “This project is just another arm of our effort to reduce public safety concerns.”
The forest service has completed big clearing areas along ARNF boundaries and cleared trees from many campgrounds. Over the past 10 years, 9,000 acres have been treated through timber sales, with an additional 16,000 acres pending. The Sulphur Ranger District encompasses 425,000 acres. And even more mitigation work remains. The forest service is currently undergoing environmental analysis to allow power companies to clear larger areas from under their lines to prevent fire danger.
If you have comments on the ARNF hazard tree removal plan, please mail comments to: Forest-wide Hazard Tree EA, 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, Fort Collins, CO 80526; or e-mail Dyce Gayton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 970-295-6761 with questions.
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