Dillon takes proactive approach in reforestation | SummitDaily.com

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Dillon takes proactive approach in reforestation

DILLON – With 90 percent of Dillon’s Marina Park trees lost to the pine-beetle epidemic, the town is taking a serious look at how to be proactive instead of reactive. Instead of concentrating on spraying for insects and saving its pines, Dillon now wants to plan for a restoration effort by creating long-range goals.

“It’s a progression. It’s a long, drawn out process,” said Rick Herwehe, the president of A Cut Above Forestry. His forest-management business took the helm in 2008 to create a tree care, restoration and reforestation plan for the town of Dillon, including ideas for landscaping, wildfire mitigation and general long-term forest health. “Let’s be thoughtful and take our time on this.”

The plan was introduced to Dillon’s council for the first time at a work session last week, and now town officials are going to look at how to implement it.

According to the plan, the greatest challenge Dillon is facing is the removal of an abundance of dead trees left by the mountain pine beetle. The 10-year plan also stated that the town wants to create a diversity of plant species as it rejuvenates the area.

Dillon’s assistant public works director Scott O’Brien said the three biggest projects include doing something with peninsula property – between Dillon Reservoir and the Snake River arm, the Marina Park – “It’s the jewel of Dillon” – and fire mitigation.

Herwehe’s plan also includes keeping an eye out for the spruce beetle – apparently it’s been appearing throughout the county, and ridding the area of Dwarf Mistletoe – another plant that’s slowly killing trees.

“I don’t know how we’ll be involved in implementation,” Herwehe said, adding that A Cut Above Forestry has been helping with tree removal in town for several years. “Hopefully we’ll be involved in moving into the restoration part of it.”

Herwehe added that he’s worked closely with O’Brien to come up with all the goals and objectives needed to clean up town trees, especially those already affected by the mountain pine beetle. They’ve determined the necessity to plan for planting trees already 3-5 feet tall, as well as shrubs and native grasses.

“They’ll visually make a difference, but they’ll still take time to regenerate,” Herwehe said, also noting that planting seeds isn’t the best approach for replacing trees at high elevation.

Dillon’s town manager Devin Granbery said the next step is to explore funding options for the reforestation project as the council looks at its 2010 budget plan.

“I’m proud that I think Dillon is one of the first communities to move forward this way with an actual management plan,” O’Brien said. “This is not only done at a municipal city level, but it could be done by a home owner, a condo association or development project. It’s a really good way to figure out where to go in the future.”

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@summitdaily.com.