Wildfire prevention project cleans up 30 acres near Tabernash | SkyHiNews.com

Wildfire prevention project cleans up 30 acres near Tabernash

TABERNASH — A project to remove beetle-kill trees and reduce the risk of wildfires was completed last week on 30 acres of forest outside of Tabernash near the Winter Park Highlands Subdivision.

The Colorado State Forest Service and the Kremmling Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management completed the project, known as the Fraser River Canyon Good Neighbor Authority project, on Dec. 3, reducing the available wildfire fuel in the area.

“What that entails is sending the logger in to do what we call a sanitation salvage, so basically they go through and cut and remove any merchantable beetle-kill trees,” said Matthew Schlitz, a forester with the Granby Field Office of the Colorado State Forest Service. “We do try to leave any advanced regeneration in there.”

Schlitz said he considered the project successful and he estimated the project was able to remove around 50 logging truck loads of beetle-kill trees from the area.

This was the first cross-boundary project using the Good Neighbor Authority, which is a program that allows state and federal agencies to complete mutually beneficial projects across land boundaries.

“The main focus of (the Good Neighbor Authority) is to address the aftermath of the pine beetle epidemic, whether that’s addressing hazard trees, hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface, or just doing some beetle-kill salvage,” Schlitz explained. “The main purpose of the salvage would be to facilitate healthy forest regeneration.”

Schlitz said the acres between Tabernash and the Winter Park Highlands were chosen because of the proximity to homes and the potential benefits to the Fraser River watershed.

“This project area was right adjacent to Winter Park Highlands Subdivision, which is also a recognized Firewise site, so that work really complimented the efforts they’ve gone to the past several years,” Schlitz said. “We also take into consideration benefits to the watershed. The Fraser River is a pretty important watershed both to Grand County but also to Denver, so that kind of bumped it up in the priority list.”

The Firewise USA program, operated by the National Fire Protection Association, has over 1,500 registered Firewise sites where residents take preventative action in protecting their homes and neighborhoods from wildfire. There are six registered Firewise sites in Grand County, including the Winter Park Highlands.

Hahn’s Peak Enterprises, Inc., a Granby based logging company, salvaged merchantable trees for the firewood and fencing markets, as well as the pole yard in Fraser. The slash was piled for burning.

While this was the first Good Neighbor Authority project, Schlitz said it will not be the last. The Colorado State Forest Service is currently considering projects in Grand Lake and on Sheep Mountain next to the YMCA of the Rockies. It is also continuing to work on a long-term project treating 600 acres near Trail Mountain.

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