Forest Service on the right track with hazard tree removal | SummitDaily.com

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Forest Service on the right track with hazard tree removal

It’s not always easy to find fans in the category “things federal agencies do,” but it’s hard not to be on board with the recent U.S. Forest Service announcement that hazard-tree removal is moving near the top of their list. Last week, the Forest Service said it will expand a $15 million project to remove beetle-killed trees from in the White River National Forest as well as the Arapaho-Roosevelt and Medicine Bow-Routt forests.

Put simply, it’s hard to imagine a more pressing need in our local forests. As some 2.5 million acres of forest in the state has been ravaged by the pine beetle, the number of dead trees out there is almost incalculable. Within five to 20 years after a tree dies (and sometimes sooner with strong winds), it will fall, and with that reality comes a host of related issues that must be dealt with. As we know by looking around, there aren’t enough days in a year or chainsaws in the state to cope with all of them, but the Forest Service’s plan to target trees within 150 feet of roads, in campgrounds and along popular trails is a good place to start. The use of prison labor to help with the removal will hopefully reduce taxpayer cost.

Along the way, we encourage the Forest Service to do all it can to work with local and regional businesses and municipalities that can make use of this wood. The newer stuff can be used in building, furniture making and other such things while the older and smaller diameter material is good for pellets, firewood and the like. To make best economic use of this resource requires a steady stream coming out of the forest as well as good communication among the players – starting with the Forest Service.

It’s a promising start for a daunting task, and one that we’ll confront for many years to come.

-The Summit Daily Editorial Board consists of Jim Morgan, Alex Miller, Ryan Wondercheck, Matt Sandberg, Morgan Liddick and Howard Hallman.