Trailside hazard tree removal underway in Kawuneeche/Stillwater areas

Contact(s): Visitor Information, 970-887-4100

Trailside hazard tree removal began in the Kawuneeche Valley and will move to Stillwater Pass.

GRAND LAKE – Tree cutting is nearing completion along motorized trails in the Arapaho National Forest’s Stillwater and Kawuneeche areas. This project will reduce hazards created by the recent mountain beetle epidemic along some 28 miles of motorized trail near Grand Lake.

As of Oct. 21, crews are working along NFSR 116, Little Gravel Bypass (36), Camway (113) and NFSR 816.2 in the Kawuneeche Valley and Burn (122) in the Kawuneeche Valley. These trails should be considered very dangerous as trees are being felled across the trail. Please respect posted closures and avoid areas with active chainsaw activity while traveling off trail.

Due to high use by hunters, Kauffman South (NFSR 190.1) will not close until the week of Oct. 31, 2011, during a pause between hunting seasons. These are the last remaining segments scheduled for treatment this season.

Work is complete on Sherman Creek, Gilsonite I, Gilsonite II, Lower Gilsonite and Beaver Line trails in the Stillwater area; and North Supply Loop, Middle Supply, Eagle Perch, North/South, After Burn, Blizzard Pass, Soda Pass and Lower Soda Pass in the Kawuneeche Valley.

Depending on weather, trailside hazard work is expected to wrap up by the middle of November.

Crews are felling all dead and dying trees over five inches in diameter within 66 feet of the trail. The fallen trees are being left on the ground and the trails are being reopened as crews move out of the area. Some dispersed campsites may also be impacted.

By reducing the number of dead, dying, broken, leaning and hanging trees left by the Mountain Pine beetle epidemic, the Forest Service aims to make its system trails safer, especially for ATVs and dirt bikes that travel at faster speeds and are, therefore, more at risk.

This work is part of a forest-wide project to reduce hazard trees along trails, roads, dispersed camping sites and developed recreation sites in the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest. Through projects like these, the Sulphur Ranger District is working to keep popular recreation areas open to the public.

Also, by removing hazard trees from 28 miles of trail in one project, the Sulphur Ranger District reduces the number of times crews have to come out and block trails to remove one or two fallen trees or closing for longer periods of time due to mass blowdown events.

There is always a risk of trees falling across trails without warning. Travel at safe speeds and be aware of your surroundings. Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds. Place tents and park vehicles in areas where they will not be hit if trees fall. Include a saw or ax in your vehicle safety kit to remove fallen trees in case you become trapped.

Hazard tree removal work is expected to continue along Forest Service roads and trails over the next few years. Call 970-887-4100, stop in at 9 Ten Mile Drive in Granby or visit the most current information on trail and road closures.