Helicopter logging, other work starts this month above Vail Intermountain | VailDaily.com

Helicopter logging, other work starts this month above Vail Intermountain

Daily staff report

VAIL — Helicopter logging operations will be taking place soon to reduce the wildfire risk on U.S. Forest Service land near the Intermountain neighborhood in West Vail. The project is part of a multi-year fuels-reduction project coordinated by the White River National Forest, Colorado State Forest Service and Vail Fire & Emergency Services.

Preparation work is scheduled to begin in the next few days, when crews will arrive to cut dead and diseased trees in preparation for the helicopter removal, which will occur later in August and into September. Crews will be working from dawn to dusk, Monday through Friday, with some cutting and hauling of logs allowed on Saturdays. The helicopter operations will be limited to daylight hours Monday through Friday and will continue for approximately three weeks.

The logging work represents the second phase of the Intermountain Fuels Reduction Project, which seeks to reduce the amount of fuel available for wildfire, reduce the number of dead standing trees, regenerate areas of unhealthy aspen and improve wildlife habitat. The project’s first phase began in October 2016, with fuel-reduction work completed on 17 acres.

The upcoming helicopter logging will be used to target a 43-acre area with the removal of approximately 3,000 tons of woody fuel to significantly reduce wildfire hazards in the area. The trees will be flown by a Blackhawk helicopter to log landing areas on the upper bench of Donovan Park and Deer Underpass State Wildlife Area, located at the west end of Basingdale Boulevard. The operation will require temporary closures of a portion of Matterhorn Circle.

Logs removed during the helicopter logging will later be sent to wood processing facilities in Colorado to make usable wood products such as firewood, heating pellets and dimensional lumber. For a map of the project area as well as frequently asked questions, go to http://www.vailgov.com/intermountainfuels. Residents in the affected area are being notified of the helicopter logging and are being asked to be aware of the following:

Expect approximately four to five logging trucks leaving the landing areas each day through the Intermountain and Matterhorn neighborhoods.

For safety reasons, nearby trails in the Intermountain area will be temporarily closed during helicopter operations, as will a portion of Matterhorn Circle. Please obey all contractor, town of Vail and U.S. Forest Service personnel conducting traffic control in the area. It is prohibited to go into or be upon any area which is closed for the protection of Public Health and Safety. The use of recreational drones within a quarter mile of the project area is prohibited. Drones flying in the area pose a significant safety risk and will force operations to stop for public safety. The public is reminded that “If you fly, we can’t.” Pets should be moved inside so they are not bothered by noise and personnel in the area.

For more information, contact Paul Cada, wildland program administrator, Vail Fire & Emergency Services, at 970-477-2250 or email pcada@vailgov.com.

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