Forest Service takes on dead Colorado pines |

Forest Service takes on dead Colorado pines

Bruce Finley
The Denver Post
Summit Daily file photo/Mark FoxNational Forest Service firefighters with the San Juan Hotshots out of Durango were busy last June cutting down dead and beetle-infested trees on Forest Service land near the Frisco recpath below Mount Royal. The Forest Service announced this week the effort to remove dead trees is about to get a great deal more extensive

The U.S. Forest Service on Thursday launched a massive Colorado “hazard tree” removal project using contract and prison labor to cut dangerous beetle-killed pines.

Cutting crews are to fan out, lugging gas-powered chain saws along trails and roadways and at campgrounds, working to prevent some of the hundreds of millions of dead trees from falling on hikers and motorists on federal lands.

The project announced Thursday for the White River National Forest expands a $15 million hazard-tree removal effort that also targets dead trees in the Arapaho-Roosevelt and Medicine Bow-Routt forests. The total area accounts for about 4.2 million acres across western Colorado.

“We have to be responsive to public concern,” White River forest spokesman Pat Thrasher said. “Yes, there are risks inherent with use of national forests, but this particular hazard is so widespread and pervasive that we feel there’s a need to address it in a more aggressive way.”

Liability issues drive the project, forest officials said.

Although no major accidents have been reported, close calls include an incident in which a Forest Service employee was nearly hit by a falling pine. And a pickup driver towing an all-terrain vehicle west of Tennessee Pass last summer reported damage from a falling beetle-killed tree.

For more of this Denver Post story:

Support Local Journalism