That’s the way the tree falls |

That’s the way the tree falls

Don Rogers

A funny thing happened on the U.S. Forest Service’s way toward restoring environmental health in our now overgrown timber stands, which weakened by age are providing quite the feast for various types of bark beetles. — Few lumber mills are left since tougher regulation and less funding for the Forest Service made timber sales a rarer and rarer thing. The closest mill to Eagle County is 150 miles away in Montrose. The next closest is in Wyoming.– With less timber available for logging, now there are fewer loggers, which of course means fewer mills.– The beetle-killed forests now are vulnerable to catastrophic cleansing in dry summers. Visit Trapper’s Lake, to see what that looks like.Then again, perhaps this is what our over-the-edge environmental advocates seek. Trapper’s Lake, incidentally, is the birthplace of America’s designated wilderness areas. Bugs got into the forest there, and then came the fire. Three years later, as far as the eye can see, that forest remains a study in hues of black and gray. Green barely penetrates the edge of the burn, since the fire blazed so hot it sterilized the soil.But now the local Forest Service office can’t get contractors to bite so far on timber salvage sales near Vail that would help ease the buildup of fuel for that inevitable major rager of the sort that scoured out the Back Bowls.Hmm, too few loggers, too few mills, too much hassle and too little profit to make these projects worthwhile for what companies are left that do this sort of work.That’s a fairly major chink in plans such as our 72,000-acre Vail Valley Forest Health project, which includes controlled fires and logging to make the forest safer as well as healthier. Vail, Colorado

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