Hazard tree removal to impact hunting season near Winter Park

Map of forest closure

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Granby, Colo.(Aug. 21, 2012)–Beginning Sept. 4, a portion of the Arapaho National Forest outside Winter Park and Fraser will close temporarily to all use while the U.S. Forest Service works to improve public safety by cutting hazardous, 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 boundary. 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. 

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), and any roads leaving from these roads. 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 is also prohibited through this closure area.

Hunters are advised that they are responsible for knowing where the closure area is located.  Violators may face a maximum $5,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.

The closure will impact a number of hunting seasons in Game Management Unit 28, including deer, elk, bear, moose and mountain goat seasons during archery, muzzleloading and the first through third rifle seasons.

Access to the Vasquez Peak Wilderness is available from the Vasquez Peak Trailhead. Access to the Byers Peak Wilderness is available from the Lake Evelyn Trailhead, Keyser Ridge Trailhead, Kinney Creek Trailhead, Darling Creek Trailhead and cross-country from Ute Peak Trailhead.

Areas east of U.S. Highway 40, including Meadow Creek, Devil’s Thumb and the James Peak Protection Area will be open and available to hunting while the Winter Park area is closed; however, when work wraps up on roads in the Winter Park area, those contractors may move to the Meadow Creek/FS 128 area. This could impact some of the later hunting seasons. Jones Pass, Church Park and the Williams Fork are also part of Unit 28 and are outside the closure area and available for public use.

Also, contractors are still working in the Stillwater/upper Kawuneeche/Kauffman Creek area. Road and trail closures will impact some access through Game Management Unit 18, so be sure to check on the status of closures before heading out to avoid disappointment.

Hunters should plan on camping outside closure areas and remove game via open roads and trails.  Access through closed roads and trails will not be permitted.  Hunters need to plan accordingly. 

For more information on available hunting access in Units 18 and 28, call the Sulphur Ranger District's Visitor's Information Hotline at 970-887-4100 or Colorado Parks and Wildlife at (970) 725-6200.

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.