Fuels reduction project will temporarily close trails in Breckenridge

A rider enjoy flowing through the historic Flume trails above Breckenridge in 2019. A fuel reduction project will shut down sections of the trail during the work week this summer.
Rebecca Spiro/Courtesy photo

The Peabody Placer fuels reduction project will shut down a few Breckenridge trails this summer. The 86-acre project will begin later this season and crosses several trails between Highlands Drive and Gold Run Gulch Road. It’s one of several fuel reduction projects to take place in Breckenridge this year.

The joint project between Summit County, the town of Breckenridge, the Colorado State Forest Service and U.S. Forest Service will remove hazardous wildfire fuels from the wildland-urban interface in the Golden Horseshoe area. Contractors have had permission to start work since June 30, but work has not yet begun, Colorado State Forest Service Administering Forester Ashley Garrison said.

A map of the Peabody Placer hazardous fuels reduction Project displays the roughly 86-acre, three parcel area to be addressed.
Colorado State Forest Service/Courtesy image

Trail closures due to fuel reduction work will be announced on websites and social media platforms associated with the county, town of Breckenridge and White River National Forest, Garrison said. Additionally, major trail and wayfinding apps will reflect closures, she said. Trails or trail sections may be periodically closed for up to five consecutive days and alternate routes will be provided

Multiday closures will impact middle and upper Flume Trails, while Extension Mill Trail and Last Chance Trail will be intermittently impacted by short closures, lasting less than a day Garrison said.

Most work is scheduled for the work week, with trails open most weekends, Garrison said. The middle and upper Flume trails will always be open on weekends, and the lower section featuring the Extension Mill Trail could be closed on some Saturdays, Garrison added.

Garrison said work is scheduled around major bike and trail running events in the area, and they will not be affected.

Logging crews from Colorado Timber Resources will be harvesting timber from three distinct parcels off Gold Run Gulch Road, on the Peabody Placer Open Space and nearby federal lands. The Colorado State Forest Service is administering contracts for both the open space and the federal portions of this cross-boundary fuels reduction effort.

“Cross-boundary projects allow us to target wildfire prevention treatments more effectively in high priority areas. Forests, clean water, fires and wildlife don’t observe property lines on the map,” said Garrison. “The current work will also complement past fuels reduction efforts completed by the town of Breckenridge and the U.S. Forest Service.”

Dillon District Ranger Adam Bianchi said the project was identified as a priority in the 2011 Breckenridge Forest Health and Fuels Environmental Assessment and the 2018 Summit County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

“The Peabody Placer HFR project will increase connectivity between the 451-acre treatment in the Highlands neighborhood that was completed in 2016 and the 469-acre treatment in the Golden Horseshoe area that was completed last year, further reducing the risk of large wildfires threatening neighborhoods,” Bianchi said.

A majority of the treatment area — 83.4 acres — is standing dead and diseased lodgepole pine that will be clear-cut, leaving behind healthy regenerating trees, the Colorado State Forest Service said in a news release. The remaining acreage is small “group selection” pockets made of dense spruce-fir type of forest. The state Forest Service said leaving those pockets will improve habitat for species like deer, lynx and hare while creating separation in wildfire fuels.

Harvesting in all treatments will be completed using heavy, mechanized forestry equipment — this allows contractors to haul out wood for processing Garrison said. Colorado Timber Resources will cut harvested material from the project area into dimensional lumber at the company’s mill in Parshall, 60 miles north of the project site on Colorado Highway 9.

Machinery and logging trucks may be encountered by the public on Gold Run Gulch Road for the duration of the operations.

“We are proud to be able to utilize the wood products from this cut and reduce the carbon footprint of this project,” said Jordan Mead, resource specialist with Summit County Open Space and Trails. “We strive to utilize the materials from these projects whenever possible and the benefits are twofold. First, the carbon stored in the trees is put into long-term storage as building materials and, second, we support the local economy and jobs in the timber industry.” 

Work on the project may extend into 2023, according to the state Forest Service. Work was slated to begin June 30 to minimize impacts to wildlife during spring calving season, although it still has not begun. Operations in 2022 will conclude by Oct. 31, prior to the winter recreation season, according to the state Forest Service release. Closures will be in effect when operations near the trails make conditions unsafe for recreation. 

The Summit County Strong Futures fund is funding the project with matching funds from the Forests-to-Faucets grant program, which includes funds from Denver Water, according to the state Forest Service release. For updates and additional information, visit the project webpage on the Summit County Government website or contact project administrator Ashley Garrison at

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