Time running short for Blue River pine beetle project
BLUE RIVER – Time is dwindling for Blue River homeowners hoping to receive financial help from the town to remove dead pine beetle trees from their property.Residents have until Sunday to gather their felled trees and place them at their property line so contractor Bob Byron and his crew can chip the slash.Trees put out after Sunday will still be chipped, but the town won’t cover the costs, as it’s doing now.Byron and his crews plan to sweep each subdivision in town on Sunday, “and once we go through a subdivision, we won’t go back,” he said.The chipping is part of the town’s pine beetle mitigation project, in which it is attempting to remove more than 900 infected trees marked by volunteer Colorado State University students last month.The town has offered to pay the cost to haul away the trees with its $39,000 budget, half of which came from a county grant.Town officials are urging homeowners to work with their neighbors to streamline the process. That is, organize to have trees from everyone in the subdivision on the street ready to be chipped on the same day in order to use the limited budget most effectively.”For a little town we’re doing what we can with the money we have. Once we run out of money, that’s it,” said Blue River Mayor Lindsay Backas, adding that the town has already spent about half its allotted budget.Residents should contact Board of Trustees member Larry Nelson to arrange for a chipping date and time.If property owners miss the June 10 deadline, they will still be required to remove their trees by the end of June to prevent the pine beetles from infecting other trees. The beetles fly in early July.If people don’t comply with the timeline, the town has an ordinance that allows it to cut down and chip the trees and send the property owner the bill.The cost starts at about $100 per tree for removal and chipping, but can increase depending on the size, location and number of trees on the property, Byron said.The Blue River Board of Trustees focused in on removing dead and dying trees in town with the hopes of minimizing the spread of the pine beetle next year.Until this summer, the small town south of Breckenridge had been mostly spared from the bug epidemic that has swept through other parts of the county. Last year, the town removed 200 to 300 dead trees from town, but this year that number tripled.The town won a matching grant from the Board of County Commissioners to help mitigate the problem, and wildland firefighters from the Red, White and Blue Fire District volunteered to help homeowners fall their trees.Talk to the townThe town would like to hear from anyone who has already removed pine beetle trees from their property in order to keep track of credits for subsequent grants. If you’ve removed trees, call town clerk Kathy Neel at (970) 547-0545. If you still want to arrange for the town to chip your trees for you, call Larry Nelson at (970) 485-0277. For more information, go to http://www.townofblueriver.com and click on “hazardous fuels reduction/pine beetles.”Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at email@example.com.
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