Fraser " Heavy snowpack blocks trails on Experimental Forest
Sky-Hi Daily News
The trailheads at Fraser Experimental Forest are still closed and covered with snow, says Mark Dixon, an Experimental Forest site manager and hydrologist.
These trails include Mt. Nystrom; Byers Peak Loop; Byers Peak to Bill’s Peak Loop; Bottle Peak, Bottle Pass, Ptarmigan Peak; St. Louis Lake; St. Louis Peak; St. Louis Divide Loop; and Mine Creek.
“The district has yet to open the gates to those trailheads,” he said.
People could still have a few more weeks to wait, he said. Up to seven feet of snow still covers areas of the trails. At 11,000-12,000 feet, it doesn’t get as warm as the areas at lower elevations. However, it is melting quickly, he said.
“It’s melting; it just comes slow,” Dixon said. “The evidence is the streams are way up.”
The Sulfur Ranger District did a lot of logging along CR-73 this winter. “There’s quite a few openings now,” Dixon said.
Once the hiking season begins, people will have “good views” of Byers Peak and surrounding mountains, he added.
Flume Trail is open
Flume Trail, outside of the forest, is open to people who don’t mind getting their feet wet, Dixon said.
The northeastern part of the trail connects with the Woods and Bemrose Creek trails. Flume Trail runs along the south side of Saint Louis Creek, according to http://www.trails.com.
Dixon recently walked a couple miles of the muddy trail, which he said is pretty easy to hike.
“They had done some logging during the winter so there were a few trees down,” he said. “You get your feet wet if you want to go down there.”
While hiking he said he likes to “mosey around” and take photographs.
Small streams are located near the trail, he said. “It’s definitely not dry yet, but it’s passable.”
The County keeps CR-73 plowed from the town to the Experimental Forest headquarters during the winter.
“They keep it open,” Dixon said. “It’s rare that you wouldn’t be able to drive in or out. They do a good job.”
Logging also was done adjacent to Flume Trail, and some of the trees were left in place. Hikers also will notice “big” piles of slash from the logging, he said.
The forest includes spruce, fur, and aspens “but mostly lodge poles,” he said.
Experimental Forest scientists are assessing the effects of both beetle kill and logging on the amount of stream flow.
“We’re looking at the beetle effects on water quality and quantity coming out of the basin,” said Scientist Kelly Eldler. “There’s a lot of different ways to log and remove fuels … We’re trying to help the land managers pick the best management methods in the context of water and forest health.
“We’re doing work on the effect of the beetle on soil processes and nutrient exchange, and we’re doing studies on sedimentation or erosion and the effects of slash pile management as well.”
A lot of trees will be removed within the next 10 years. All standing dead trees will be a hazard, he added.
Forest rangers said the logging at the forest has stopped for now and will not resume until July.
Trees are dropping on their own in areas where the ground is saturated, U.S. Forest Service officials said. For more information and pine beetle updates visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/arnf.
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