Battle Mountain has pine-beetle plan
MINTURN ” Up to 3,000 lodgepole pine trees, newly infested by pine beetles are being cut down on land owned by The Ginn Company on Battle Mountain.
The company, which plans to build a private ski resort and luxury homes between Minturn and Red Cliff, says it’s trying to slow the spread of the beetles that have infested forests in the valley, turning trees purplish and rusty brown.
“Like our neighbors to the north on Vail Mountain and elsewhere, we are committed to being good stewards of the land,” Ginn Senior Vice President Bill Weber said. “We want to slow the infestation to help preserve habitat and mitigate the fire hazard caused by the dead lodgepoles.”
Trees 7 inches in diameter and larger will be cut down with a mechanical harvester.
Pine beetles kill trees when their larvae bore under the bark, bringing with them a fungus that cuts off the flow sap to the upper reaches of the tree. By removing the infested trees, there are fewer beetles in the lodgepole stands that can infect new trees next summer.
Each infested tree left standing this year will result in three more infested trees next summer when a new crop of pine beetles hatch and fly to infest new trees.
Crews also will place piles of logging debris, also known as “slash,” in the forest to create habitat for snowshoe hares, said Eric Petterson, a biologist with Rocky Mountain Ecological Services, which is supervising the work.
To the east of Highway 24, at elevations soaring up to 11,000 feet, The Ginn Company is proposing a new private ski area and residential community.
The thinning will occur on 800 acres in the center of the property and most of the cutting and thinning will not be visible from Minturn or Red Cliff.
Approximately 50 trees per acre will be cut. Carbondale-based Timberwolf Industries, which specializes in pine beetle control work, will conduct the thinning project.
Trees that are cut will be taken to a lumber mill and used for housing materials. The pine beetle management plan has been submitted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This is just the start of a long-term management plan for the area,” Weber said.
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