As Memorial Day kicks off the summer recreation season, visitors should be aware of the danger of falling trees.
Thousands of beetle killed trees fall every day in the central and northern Colorado forests. Heavy winds have weakened stands, causing them to be increasingly unstable, resulting in falling-tree dangers along public roadways, trails and recreation sites.
"The dead trees are rotting in their roots and are now starting to rot above ground making them susceptible to falling at unpredictable times," said Cal Wettstein, incident commander of the Bark Beetle Incident Management Organization. "With the resulting openings in the forest tree canopy the live trees, with all their needles, are catching in the wind like sails, causing them to blow over and pull the dead trees down with them. This makes it especially dangerous to be in these beetle kill areas in windy conditions."
Safety tips for traveling in and around tree stands include:
> Check local weather forecasts and be aware of high-wind advisories before going into the woods;
> Let family or friends know where you plan to go and when you expect to return;
> Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid dense patches of dead trees;
> Look for open areas when selecting a location to camp or park;
> Park close to main roads;
> Bring an ax or a saw to remove fallen trees in case you become trapped; and
> Do not rely on cellphones for safety in remote areas.
The Forest Service has several crews tending to high-use recreation areas posing the greatest risks to public safety. Some campgrounds and trailheads have been closed or delayed in their opening due to hazardous trees. Updates are available at your local ranger district office.