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Vail looking for dead trees

Daily staff report
newsroom@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado -The town of Vail continues enforcement of its dead tree ordinance, where representatives from the town’s wildland fire crew have been working with private property owners to assist in identifying dead or diseased trees.

Crew members have canvassed 419 properties in the Intermountain and East Vail neighborhoods and have located 55 properties containing hazardous trees. Those affected property owners have been notified of the town regulation that requires removal of dead and diseased trees within 30 days or to have an acceptable mitigation plan in place. The handful of property owners that have not removed the identified trees or submitted a reasonable plan as of Aug. 3 will now be issued a notice of violation. Failure to comply could result in a summons to municipal court.

Fire Chief Mark Miller says the department’s neighborhood inspections have been going well with most property owners indicating a willingness to take appropriate action.

“For some people, it may be a matter of cost, but action plans have been submitted, which is all we ask,” said Miller. “We want property owners to know that we’re available to help any way we can,” he said.

Crews plan to finish their townwide canvass by October.-

Since Jan. 1, 2008, 117 applications have been submitted and approved by the town for the removal of dead trees on private property. That compares to no applications during 2006, prior to enactment of the town’s dead tree ordinance.

As an incentive for property owners to remove their dead trees, free curbside chipping service is being offered by the town. The service will be available until Oct. 25 for trunks, limbs and slash up to 24 inches in diameter. Also, the town has streamlined its dead tree removal application process for additional convenience.

Property owners may also benefit from a program administered by the State of Colorado which allows 50 percent of a landowner’s costs incurred in performing wildfire mitigation measures on their property to be taken as an income tax deduction within that tax year. The deduction took effect Jan. 1, and can not exceed $2,500 or the total amount of the landowner’s federal taxable income for the tax year in which the deduction is claimed, whichever is less.-For more information on the income tax deduction, visit the Colorado Department of Revenue Web site at http://www.revenue.state.co.us. In addition, individual land owners can apply for grants to assist with removal of trees on their property through the Colorado State Forest Service, via the Wildland-Urban Interface Competitive Grant Program.

Recently, wildfire crews have been working on clearing 10 acres of town-owned land between the Snowshoe Lane water tank, Main Gore South Drive and the interstate as well as clearing pine beetle trees on town-owned land in Matterhorn and in East Vail near Black Gore Creek Circle. Crews continue to do free FireWise property assessments. To schedule an appointment, call Wildland Coordinator Tom Talbot at 477-3509.

The town’s dead tree removal regulation was reviewed and revised by the Town Council in November 2007 to help protect the town from the ongoing pine beetle epidemic and associated wildfire risks. The dead tree ordinance enforcement follows a similar process taken by the town in 2006 with the wildlife protection regulation requiring bear-proof or bear-resistant trash containers, which currently has a 95 percent compliance rate.-


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