Near the end of your Easter Sunday article about Ophir clear-cutting (April 20), Ms. Langley reports that the Forest Service speakers asked, “Where should we spend money instead (of clear-cutting)?” Great segue; lots of great answers:
1) In the community protection zones, where the forest has already been razed near housing, plant aspen. They grow quickly and nicely spaced; they’re fire resistant; and they’re pretty. YesIMBY! The alternative of encouraging dense thickets of doghair lodgepole, as the Forest Service is currently planning, could prove a nightmare for neighborhoods and firefighters. This is especially true because U.S.F.S. policy prohibits thinning and the dense, scrawny trees grow very slowly, so will remain that way a very long time.
2) On Gold Hill and other areas where clear-cutting has destroyed trails, have the contractor rebuild the trails. This is particularly apropos if there is still funding “committed” to the contractor. Maybe even have them plant aspen along the trails. It would be a terrible abuse of Summit County’s wonderful volunteer organizations to ask them to spend the next however-many years building new trails through wasteland when there were already excellent trails through beautiful forests before the clear-cutting.
3) Work with the Wildfire Council and fire districts to advise and assist homeowners in fire-proofing their properties. Surely the Forest Service can find a little flexibility to spend money where it will be far more cost effective for fire-hazard reduction than clear-cutting beautiful forest miles from any housing.
I’m sure Summit Daily readers can think of lots of other great ways for the Forest Service to spend money that would be far more appropriate to the concept of stewardship than destroying the Summit County’s wonderful forests and trails just for the sake of having fewer mature trees.