Beetle-kill benches appear on Vail rec paths |

Beetle-kill benches appear on Vail rec paths

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” Beetle-kill pine trees removed from the Vail area are being put to another kind of use ” as public benches.

The town of Vail has partnered with Eagle woodworker Wolfgang Opel to construct benches made from lodgepole pines removed as part of the Vail Valley Forest Health project. The town has received 10 benches, which are being installed along the Katsos Ranch section of the Gore Valley Trail in East Vail.

The town may order more benches.

The pieces of each bench are cut and milled from logs as large as 18 inches in diameter and then handmade by Opel, master carpenter with NIKI Woodworking and Timbers of Eagle.

The benches are a great way to give new life to the beetle-killed trees, said Gregg Barrie, the town’s landscape architect.

“We’ve supplied Wolfgang with the raw materials, and he’s returned a very useful product that would have otherwise ended up as mulch. And, because Vail supplied the material, these benches cost less than half as much as our standard park benches,” Barrie said.

The custom-made benches are also available for purchase by the public. A basic six-foot bench starts around $300, depending on the source of materials.

Since 2005, the Forest Health program has resulted in the removal of an estimated 10,000 trees on 150 acres in and around Vail, plus many more on privately owned land.

To purchase a bench made from beetle-kill pine, contact Wolfgang Opel at 970-376-6552 or visit his Web site at

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