Vail Intermountain helicopter logging operations to continue week of Oct. 16 | VailDaily.com

Vail Intermountain helicopter logging operations to continue week of Oct. 16

Daily staff reports
newsroom@vaildaily.com
A helicopter makes passes during the Vail Intermountain Fuels Project Friday, Sept. 29, in West Vail. At least 50 truck loads of timber have been taken out of West Vail to date.

VAIL — Helicopter logging operations associated with the Vail Intermountain Fuels Project will continue this week to make up for weather and scheduling delays. All log hauling and yarding should be complete by Friday, Nov. 3.

To date, the helicopter contractor has flown approximately 59 hours and moved 120 semi-truck loads of wood from the forest. Helicopter activity to the western landing, located at the west end of Bassingdale Boulevard, was completed on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The remainder of the helicopter work will be bringing logs to the eastern landing, located at Upper Matterhorn Circle. Crews will continue to remove logs with trucks through the end of the month at both landings.

The Vail Intermountain Fuels 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.

Wood has been removed from approximately 30 of the total 43 acres of the project area thus far. The work, to date, represents nearly 600,000 board feet of timber, or roughly enough wood to build 38 2,000-square-foot-homes. Logs removed during the helicopter logging are being sent to wood-processing facilities in Colorado to make useable wood products such as firewood, heating pellets and dimensional lumber.

The helicopter logging work represents the second phase of the Intermountain Fuels Reduction Project, which seeks to reduce the amount of fuels 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 last October and was completed in August, with fuel reduction work completed on 37 acres.

For a map of the project area as well as frequently asked questions, visit http://www.vailgov.com/intermountainfuels.

Removing wood with a helicopter is part of the 1.1 million project being funded by the Town of Vail and the U.S. Forest Service, with additional funding assistance provided by Eagle County and The Nature Conservancy. Six to eight logging trucks are estimated to be leaving the landing areas each day through the Intermountain and Matterhorn neighborhoods.

Residents in the affected area are being notified of the helicopter logging and are being asked to be aware of the following:

• Expect approximately six to eight 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. 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 that 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: "If you fly, we can't!"

• Pets should be moved inside so noise and personnel in the area do not bother them.

• Stay clear of heavy equipment and crews working on the project.

• Observe operations only from a safe distance and do not attempt to approach the area where trees are being delivered by helicopter and loaded onto trucks. Recommended viewing areas are on the north side of Interstate 70 at Ellefson Park, 2300 Garmisch Drive or along Davos Trail, located above Cortina Lane.

The helicopter operations are being provided by Timberline Helicopters, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, under a contract with the Town of Vail and coordinated by the Colorado State Forest Service.

The Intermountain Fuels Reduction project was initiated in 2013 when a feasibility study and environmental analysis provided the authorization to move forward with the work. The last phase of the project will be the burning of slash piles left over from logging operations. Pile burning will occur when conditions are favorable and should be complete by the winter of 2018-19. Additional details on the environmental assessment can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=44884 .

The town of Vail and the U.S. Forest Service are funding the $1.1 million project, with additional funding assistance provided by Eagle County and The Nature Conservancy. This project is possible due to the support and cooperation of White River National Forest (Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District), The Nature Conservancy, National Forest Foundation, Vail Resort, Eagle County, town of Vail Colorado State Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

For more information, contact Paul Cada, wildland program administrator, Vail Fire & Emergency Services, at 970-477-3475 or email pcada@vailgov.com.

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