Vail Valley: Crews removing dead trees on Bellyache |

Vail Valley: Crews removing dead trees on Bellyache

Jack Affleck/Special to the Vail Daily

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Tackling the vast swaths of beetle-killed forest in Colorado’s Vail Valley is a little like eating an elephant – you just have to take one bite at a time.

This year’s bites are coming in the Bellyache Ridge area above Wolcott. Homes in that area are among those most threatened by the dead and dying trees, and those trees need to be cut down.

People all over the Central Rockies are cutting down trees on private property to help ease the potential fire danger around their homes, but those doing that work on Bellyache can get a little financial help, thanks to a grant from the Colorado State Forest Service.

That state agency this year has provided about $80,000 in grants to Eagle County to help with tree removal. It’s not a lot of money, considering that tree removal can run $2,500 an acre or more. That’s why this year’s bite at the problem is focused on Bellyache.

The money from the state is being administered by the county’s office, run by wildlife mitigation manager Eric Lovegren.

Lovegren said property owners at Bellyache will be able to get some financial relief from the state funds, although in many cases the money available won’t cover owners’ costs.

But, working with local tree service companies, the Bellyache homeowners association and invidual property owners, Lovegren said he’s looking to get the most bang for the limited bucks available.

“It’s cheaper if we can do it in one contract,” Lovegren said.

But what happens to the cut-down timber?

Lovegren said about 200 trees were shipped last year to a plant in Kremmling that makes fuel for pellet stoves. But there’s a lot of supply right now, and that plant has stopped taking new shipments.

“If nothing else we’ll use (the timber) for firewood and fenceposts,” Lovegren said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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