Tree across river to be removed from Aspen nature preserve | AspenTimes.com

Tree across river to be removed from Aspen nature preserve

An approximately 80-foot-tall spruce tree that fell across the Roaring Fork River on Nov. 17 in the North Star Nature Preserve will be at least partially removed.

An approximately 80-foot-tall spruce tree that fell across the Roaring Fork River on Nov. 17 in the North Star Nature Preserve will be at least partially removed.

Pitkin County open space officials plan to at least partially remove an 80-foot tree that fell across the Roaring Fork River two weeks ago in the North Star Nature Preserve.

“It has to be moved,” said Ted O’Brien, resource and trails manager for the county’s Open Space and Trails program. “It’s so large that during spring runoff it could do resource damage.”

That damage could include stream bank erosion, creating eddies where they shouldn’t be or even causing an oxbow or U-shaped bend in the river, he said.

The decision to remove the large spruce tree was not made, however, so people who like to float the through the placid North Star Preserve can continue to do so, O’Brien said.

“This is a nature preserve,” he said. “Floaters are not the priority.”

The massive tree, which was leaning out over the river, snapped and fell Nov. 17 during a storm that was light on snow but heavy on wind, an open space ranger said last week. The tree completely blocks passage down the river.

O’Brien said removal work could begin by the end of the week. It will cost about $6,000 to take out if open space officials decide to remove the entire tree, he said. They might decide to leave part of the tree if that would benefit the river, O’Brien said.

Aspen Tree Service will remove the tree, he said.

The 175-acre North Star Nature Preserve is located about 1.5 miles east of Aspen and features the only calm stretch of water on the Roaring Fork River. Because of that, the lazy float has become such a popular summer activity for locals and tourists alike that the county has had to begin aggressively policing river behavior, especially in the last year.

jauslander@aspentimes.com