Fuel reduction project beginning in West Vail area
VAIL — Contractors for the U.S. Forest Service have begun cutting and piling trees as part of the Vail Intermountain Fuels Reduction project. This project builds upon and complements the fuels reduction work that has already been completed in the area. The intent is to reduce fuels available for wildfire, reduce the number of dead standing trees and regenerate areas of unhealthy aspen.
Residents may observe contractor vehicles and crew members in the areas of Basingdale Boulevard, Vermont Road and Sequoia Drive as they travel to and from the Intermountain neighborhood to the project site which is located on national forest land. The crews are authorized to work up to seven days a week from dawn to dusk before winter snows shut the project down for the season. Crews are expected to return in the spring or early summer of 2017 to finish the remainder of the work.
This project has been a long time in the making, according to Paul Cada, wildland program administrator for Vail Fire and Emergency Services, who says it is exciting to finally see some work get started on the ground. The town of Vail and the U.S. Forest Service first started having discussions about the project in 2013. A feasibility study and environmental analysis completed in the spring of 2016 provided the authorization to move forward with the project which will reduce fuel on 94 acres. The project area is strategically split among 34 different units that stretch from the far western ridge above Dowd Junction to the hillside above Donovan Park.
Cada said the project will greatly increase the ability to keep a wildfire small if it starts in the Intermountain area. The town of Vail is assisting with project funding for this first phase in the amount of $63,700.
Trees cut as part of the project will be placed in piles to be burned at a later time. Crews from the Forest Service and Vail Fire and Emergency Service will then burn the piles as conditions allow. Pile burning is expected to be completed by the spring of 2018.
For more information, call Cada at 970-477-3475.