SUMMIT COUNTY " Elected officials will share their thoughts on how to find economic value in the mountain pine-beetle epidemic this week, as the local forest-health task force meets in Frisco.
The idea is to find paths for public-private partnerships, said task force organizer Howard Hallman.
"Removing dead trees to establish fire breaks and defensible space around homes, businesses and critical infrastructure is an expensive proposition," Hallman said.
"Establishing and promoting more robust markets for beetle-kill wood products can provide a critical economic stimulus for companies struggling to absorb the significant costs of transporting logs and slash from forest to facilities that will use them," he added.
Jan Cutts, district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, has said that she will try to foster partnerships between her agency and other stakeholders to promote the use of dead trees from national forests.
Set to participate in the panel are state Rep. Christine Scanlan, a principal sponsor of a proposed omnibus forest-health bill for the forthcoming session of the Colorado legislature; Andy Schultheiss, district chief of staff for Congressman-elect Jared Polis; Trudy Kareus, Western Slope regional director for U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar; and Summit County Commissioners Bob French and Commissioner-elect Karn Stiegelmeier.
The meeting follows on the heels of a gathering earlier this month that highlighted a growing enthusiasm among many private businesses for using wood from forests devastated by bark beetles.
A sustainable local wood-products industry is an important tool for accomplishing critical fuel reduction in the coming years, said Hallman.
Hallman said he's encouraged by the expanding number of wood-product manufacturing operations recently established by local entrepreneurs, including Mark Mathis of Confluence Energy, Lorne Curl of Colorado Blue Logs, Breckenridge Timber to Log's Gene and Matt Dayton and others.
For additional information, please contact Sandy Briggs at (970) 389-0987 or ForestHealthTF@aol.com.