Forest Service continues logging work around Peak 7 to reduce wildfire fuels
The Colorado State Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service are working together to continue logging operations to reduce the risk of wildfire near the Peak 7 community.
Phase 2 of the project will span 97 acres across the White River National Forest around the Peak 7 neighborhood. Contractors will use mechanized forestry equipment and handheld chain saws to complete the project starting this summer.
The first phase of the project was completed in fall 2020, reducing fuels on slopes near Blue Ridge Road.
The project is intended to reduce the volume and connectivity of fuels to reduce wildfire hazards to the adjacent neighborhood and the greater Breckenridge community.
All operations will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and intermittent traffic interruptions can be expected due to logging trucks along neighborhood roads. Temporary trail closures are also expected because the project briefly crosses the Peaks Trail, among others.
The project adheres to the 2011 Breckenridge Forest Health and Fuels Environment Assessment and design criteria, which were reevaluated in 2020.
District Ranger Adam Bianchi said when the project was initially planned, some local residents pushed back because they did not want to remove trees in the area. Bianchi said the project was put on pause until the Peak 2 fire, when residents grew more concerned about wildfire safety.
Bianchi said 80% of the work will be clear-cutting, and the other 20% will be cutting, hand piling and burning later on.
“The whole purpose of the work really is to remove all of the standing dead and down material,” Bianchi said. “We try to leave pockets of green where there’s healthy trees still, trying to leave as much diversity as we can.”
He said the focus is on lodgepole pines because they are the trees still feeling the effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic that started to come to an end around 2012. There is a lot of dead material that has had time to cure over the years making it more susceptible to fire.
Bianchi also emphasized that the project is a collaboration with the state forest service and Summit County, through what is called the Good Neighbor Authority. This partnership allowed work to be done on public and private property.
“It’s now become kind of a cross-boundary, multipartnership project in order to get in there and help make that neighborhood more defensible to fire,” Bianchi said.
A map of the project outlines 12 areas where logging work will take place, highlighting the specific work intended for each area.
In some areas, trees will be clear-cut. In others, dead trees will be removed with patches of healthy trees left in place. Trees that are hand cut will be stored on-site to be burned at a later date.
Residents and visitors are encouraged to avoid the work areas and heavy equipment due to risk of injury around falling trees. It is recommended to stay at least 500 feet away from all project equipment.
The Forest Service intends to continue work throughout the winter season, but should snow levels prevent access, the project will resume in summer 2022.
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