Silverthorne slash site closed |

Silverthorne slash site closed

summit daily news

SILVERTHORNE – The Town of Silverthorne has ended its slash-and-chip disposal program for diseased trees for the 2010 season. The annual program allows residents to bring branches and small trees killed by bark beetles, thereby obviating trips to the landfill.

The service has an added benefit of contributing to the restoration effort at the Climax Mine site. The chipped wood was taken to the site, between Copper Mountain and Leadville, and used for soil conservation.

The town will continue to use the slash pile for its own material this summer and then grind the slash into chips in the fall. All chips will continue to be transported to Climax Mine.

“The area being reclaimed is tailings from the mining operation,” said Town of Silverthorne utility manager Zach Margolis, who helps oversee the town’s slash program. “I remember seeing the dust blowing up over Peak 8 into Breckenridge back in 1982. Right now, the dam face and all the benches are green.”

The wood waste, in combination with biosolids from several local wastewater treatment plants, is composted and spread over the surface of the area disturbed by past mining activity. The material serves as a nutrient source for establishing new vegetation.

Margolis estimated the town sent a couple thousand cubic yards of material to the site from this year’s slash program.

“It’s been a long-running success story for us. This would otherwise have been just going to the landfill,” Margolis said.

It seems, however, that Silverthorne’s supply of wood waste may be dwindling, as the pine beetle epidemic runs its course.

The number of beetle-infested trees identified in the town fell from 2,283 trees in fall 2008 to 1,121 trees in fall 2009. And those identified in 2009 included smaller trees infested by the twig beetle – not the mountain pine beetle. The town collected $11,000 in disposal fees from the slash site in 2008; $2,700 in 2009; and $1,100 in 2010.

“So we have seen a dramatic drop in use,” Public Works director Bill Linfield said. “In addition, we believe our total slash pile this year is about one-third what it was last year, which closely matches with the revenues collected.”

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