Risk of falling trees increases in local forests | SummitDaily.com

Risk of falling trees increases in local forests

summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – The combination of dead trees, wet weather and high winds this spring has resulted in more falling trees than usual in the White River National Forest. And U.S. Forest Service officials are reminding people to exercise caution and do a little more planning than normal.

“Use an extra set of eyes,” said Patrick Thrasher, White River National Forest spokesman. “Look at things a little differently right now, with conditions the way they are.”

Beetle-kill trees already at risk of falling because of rotting roots may be even more likely to fall in rain-saturated soils. Green trees may also fall much more easily due to current wet conditions. Winds, especially high winds like those that whipped through Summit on Thursday, elevate the danger even more.

Throughout most of the summer season, temporary closures will occur as crews remove dead trees from along forest roads and trails, providing for increased public safety. Tree-removal projects have been in the planning stages for several months.

“We’re working in campgrounds and along trails, so folks should be calling ahead before they come. We don’t want them to show up to that,” Thrasher said.

Forest users need to be aware of their surroundings and wind conditions in areas where trees have been killed by beetles and in areas recently thinned to remove dead trees, officials say.

Nearly all of the mature lodgepole pine in Summit County will eventually be killed by the mountain pine beetle, and already dead trees are beginning to fall down. The average dead lodgepole pine tree weighs about 1,000 pounds and can fall without warning, so it’s critical to be aware and stay out of harm’s way.

SDN reporter Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.

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