Forest restoration plan proposed for Vail area |

Forest restoration plan proposed for Vail area

Anne Todd
Specail to the Daily

Open house

There will an open house June 22, from 4-6 p.m. at the West Vail Fire Station, 2399 N. Frontage Road, Vail. This meeting will give notice of the project and provide information. The public will also have a chance to meet with the forest crew who will discuss long-term benefits of the project and address any concerns.

WEST VAIL — As wildfire season begins, a new project that aims to improve forest health is set to go through an environmental review.

As part of the Vail Intermountain project, 316 acres between the Vail Mountain boundary and Dowd Junction would receive hazardous fuels and forest health treatments.

Due to the pine beetle outbreak, there are a large number of dead lodgepole pine trees. Eric Lovgren, Eagle County’s wildfire mitigation manager estimates that in the Vail Intermountain area 50 percent of lodgepole pine trees are dead because of the pine beetle outbreak.


The dead trees, as well as trees on the forest floor, are considered hazardous fuels. By removing these trees, the forest will become more resilient, Lovgren said. A more resilient forest includes aspen trees since they are slow to burn and provide a natural fire break, Lovgren added.

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“This project sets up the new forest not to be as susceptible to wildfire, disease or insect infestation,” Lovgren said. “It helps create a mosaic of old growth forest within a new growth forest.”

With $1.6 billion worth of residential areas in West and East Vail, there is a lot at stake if a wildfire were to occur. The Eagle County Wildfire Mitigation Service is working with the Vail Board of Realtors to educate its members about the severity of wildfire in residential areas.

“The continuous canopy of mature lodgepole pine in the project area increases the risk of fire and reduces the likelihood of protection of valuable infrastructure in the West Vail area,” said Eagle/Holy Cross District Ranger David Neely.

With this in mind, Neely says the project should improve the likelihood of successful suppression of any wildfire that might start above West Vail.

“Due to the small scale and expected benefits, we don’t believe people should be concerned about implementing this project,” Neely said.

Healthy Forests Restoration Act

The environmental analysis will be conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and will use the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

“The Healthy Forests Restoration Act is a federal law proposed to enhance efforts to protect watersheds and address threats to forest health, including catastrophic wildfire,” Neely said.

The community is asked to share its opinions on the project. Comments can be submitted via mail, fax, electronically or in person. Mail comments to Cary Green, care of David Neely, district ranger, P.O. Box 190, 24747 U.S. Highway 24, Minturn, CO 81645. Faxes can be sent to 970-827-9343. Electronic comments can be submitted at Include your name, address, telephone number, title of project for which the comment is being submitted and specific facts and supporting reasons for officials to consider.

More information about the project and maps can be found online at

Anne Todd is an intern for the Vail Daily.

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