Environmental bits | VailDaily.com

Environmental bits

Nicole Frey

Pine beetle trees in Vail to be cutVAIL – The Forest Service recently approved removing dead and dying pine beetle-infested lodgepole pines on 211 acres of land in Vail. The decree is part of the Vail Valley Forest Health Project, which is trying to alleviate pine beetle damage in 3,000 acres of forest along Interstate 70 between Vail Pass and Avon, including land in Vail, Eagle-Vail, Minturn, Avon, Beaver Creek and Arrowhead. In addition to clearing unhealthy trees, healthy stands will also be thinned to make them stronger in resisting the pine beetle, said Forest Service spokeswoman Salley Spaulding. The forest service also will work on 338 acres of aspen trees, some of which will be cut to stimulate growth of new trees and create a fire break. For more information, visit the White River National Forest’s Web site athttp://www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/projects/vail_valley/index.shtm.Hanging Lake sensitive to damageGLENWOOD CANYON – More than 600 hikers wind their way up to Hanging Lake on a busy summer day, said Sally Spaulding, spokeswoman for the White River National Forest. And as they climb, they trample plants, feed the wildlife, swim in the lake and leave trash all over the place. “That volume has a huge impact on the area, and violations to the rules further accelerate that damage as well as the overall visitor experience,” said Rich Doak, recreation program manager for the White River. “When visitors choose to break the law, they can cause significant damage to this fragile lake ecosystem.”The Forest Service reminds hikers to stay on trails, clean up after themselves, avoid the animals and keep themselves and pets out of the lake because body oils disintegrate the calcium wall that hold the lake in place.”The animals are really habituated to people and even beg for food,” said Beth Boyst, the forest’s wilderness specialist. “It’s dangerous. Those animals could transmit disease, and feeding them actually hurts the animals in the long run.”Forest service staffers are planning to replace the boardwalk and benches and build an informational kiosk to help visitors. Anyone interested in sponsoring projects or volunteering time can contact Boyst at 328-6388. More bike trails in KeystoneKEYSTONE – Keystone Resort received the go-ahead from the Forest Service to build seven new mountain bike trails on the front side of Dercum Mountain. Keystone plans to open two new expert-only downhill trails this summer and five more trails next year. The trails will be an addition to the Drop Zone, which opened earlier this year, and features four alleys with big jumps, rock ledges and rock gardens, said Amy Kemp, spokeswoman for Keystone Resort. “Keystone’s made a huge commitment to providing the best experience on the hill – with the best jumps, best features, best guest service, best of everything,” said Greg Rood, Keystone Bike Park supervisor. “And we’re committed to getting even better.”The two trails to open this year will combine fast singletrack, gravity and natural or manmade features like tabletops, ladders, bridges, berms, jumps and rock gardens, Rood said. Visit keystoneresort.com for more information. More ski terrain at KeystoneKEYSTONE – The Forest Service announced earlier this month it approved snow cat skiing on Upper Independence Bowl at Keystone Resort. After conducting a detailed environmental study, White River National Forest Supervisor Maribeth Gustafson authorized a special use permit to allow snowcat and hike-to skiing and snowboarding in the area. “I … do not feel that my approval of this project will significantly affect those seeking to enjoy backcountry opportunities,” she said. Chuck Tolton, the director of mountain operations for Keystone, said the resort has been considering the expansion for a few years.”We’ve seen an increasing demand for the hike-to and snowcat ski experience, and we feel that Upper Independence Bowl will offer a truly extraordinary experience for our guests.”The decision to open more terrain can be appealed until mid-September. Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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