Winter Park area closed Sept. 4-Nov. 15 for hazard tree cutting

Release Date: Sep 9, 2012  

Map of forest closure

 

Granby, Colo.(Aug. 21, 2012)–Beginning Sept. 4, a popular portion of the Arapaho National Forest outside Winter Park and Fraser will close to all use temporarily while the U.S. Forest Service works to improve public safety and improve access to the National Forest by cutting beetle-killed trees along many roads and trails in the area. The closure is expected to remain in place until Nov. 15.

This 29,000-acre closure will encompass all of the Fraser Experimental Forest, and the Arapaho National Forest from Winter Park and Fraser south to the Vasquez Peak Wilderness and east to Vasquez Road (See Map).  Vasquez Road will remain open to public use, however all National Forest land, roads and trails west of Vasquez Road will be closed to the western boundary of the Fraser Experimental Forest.

Located within walking distance of town and the ski area, this area is popular with mountain bikers, hikers, campers, hunters and autumn color enthusiasts in the fall and is used year-round recreationally.

Many other areas are open and available to use while this portion of the forest is temporarily closed, and visitors are encouraged to explore other parts of the Sulphur Ranger District. The Vasquez Peak Wilderness can be reached from the Vasquez Peak Trailhead on Vasquez Road while Byers Peak Wilderness, Church Park and points west can be reached from County Road 50/FSR 139 near Fraser. East of U.S. Highway 40, Meadow Creek Reservoir (Junco Lake) and the James Peak Protection Area offer ample hiking and camping opportunities. Jones Pass and the Williams Fork also are outside the closure area and offer remote, scenic country. Mountain bikers can ride between town and Winter Park Resort on trails east of Vasquez Road, including Blue Sky, Chickadee, Lower and Upper Cherokee, Ice Hill and Serenity. The Idlewild Trail System is also available for mountain bikers to explore on the east side of the highway. Hunters with permits in Game Management Units 18 and 28 click here for more information.

Roads included in this closure are St. Louis Creek Road (160), Byers Creek Road (164), Leland Creek Road (159), Elk Creek Road (158), King Creek Road (163), Fool Creek Road (162). Trails in the closure include (but are not limited to) Tipperary Creek, Creekside, Flume, Zoom, Chainsaw, Sunken Bridges, Elk Meadows, both Elk Creek loops, D2, D3, D4, WTB, and all trails leaving from these trails. Cross-country travel and camping are also prohibited throughout this closure area.

Visitors recreating in the National Forest are responsible for knowing where the closure is located.  Violators may face a maximum $5,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.

Background

The past decade’s mountain pine beetle epidemic killed an estimated 80 percent of mature lodgepole pine trees in Grand County, creating numerous hazards along U.S. Forest Service roads and trails as these trees begin to fall. In an effort to improve public safety and reduce fire hazards, the forest service’s Sulphur Ranger District has hired contractors to remove dead and dying trees along more than 150 miles of high-use, forest service roads and trails in Grand County over a several-year period.

Due to a lack of compliance from the public regarding smaller road and trail closures associated with this project earlier this summer, the U.S. Forest Service was forced to shut down the project for safety reasons. After meeting with community leaders, local special interest groups and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, it was decided that a larger, more enforceable closure area was necessary, both for public safety and to complete the work efficiently.

Winter Park, Fraser and Grand County community leaders have re-affirmed their support for these projects and offered assistance in both law enforcement patrols and working with the public. Information will be posted at all the major entries to the closure areas as well as at the Winter Park Visitor’s Center, Fraser Visitor’s Center, Winter Park Resort and through local businesses and lodging companies.

 “Thank you for your patience while we work to make our National Forest roads and trails safer for all users,” said Sulphur District Ranger Craig Magwire.

Sign up for updates by emailing SRDUpdates@fs.fed.us; stop by the Sulphur Ranger Station at 9 Ten Mile Drive in Granby; visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/sulphurupdates; or follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/usfsarp.