Fire mitigation opens view of Aspen Mountain
On the downhill side along a 100-yard or so stretch of Ridge Road on Red Mountain, trees are marked in orange, others in blue, and some have been reduced to stumps.
Many of the orange- and blue-tagged aspens and spruce may stand tall now, but they just happen to block the view of Aspen Mountain for a large home on the uphill side of the road, and they are scheduled to share the same fate as the stumps.
These islands of trees between Ridge Road and driveways of four homes may look like they belong to those homes, but they aren’t on private property. They are part of a right of way owned by the Ridge of Red Mountain Homeowners Association. Already, two-dozen trees have been cut down, some with diameters up to a foot and a half. Soon, the number felled will grow to 100.
Phillip Huffines, a Texas resident who purchased the Ridge Road home in 2020, is funding the tree cutting that will just happen to open up the view from his house to the ski slopes.
In an email obtained by The Aspen Times, Huffines said the reasons were to increase parking on the road, protect from wildfires and, yes, to open the corridor for better views.
Huffines did not return calls Monday for comment.
To do this, Huffines first had to submit an application to the Homeowners Association.
Ridge of Red Mountain HOA Director Ryan Warren said the application was approved with a few caveats. First, Huffines needed to contact all the neighbors who would be affected and inform them of his plan. If there were any objections, Huffines was required to work them out with his neighbors. Additionally, Huffines had to obtain a county permit to remove the trees from the right of way, which he did.
Huffines’ fire mitigation efforts are independent of the fire mitigation efforts done by the HOA in August and September 2022. After a July HOA meeting, homeowners on Ridge Road decided to raise fees to allow for immediate wildfire mitigation within the HOA. The vote at the meeting was unanimous, Warren said, and was heavily attended by homeowners.
The fire mitigation funded by the HOA removed smaller brush and foliage, known as ladder fuels to firefighters. Ladder fuel allows for wildfire to more easily climb into the canopies of larger trees, which otherwise are resistant to flames at their bases.
On Ridge Road, trees of different kinds are tagged with orange and blue tape. Some trees have already been cut down, leaving an abundance of 18- to 20-inch diameter stumps where aspens and spruces once stood tall.
The email also stated the area along the right of way would be replanted with new, less dense vegetation — which also would be shorter — and that Huffines offered to install any additional planting the homeowners would like after HOA approval.
To reach Audrey Ryan, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday night, the City Council listened to ideas for each old building. However, nothing laid out what the community space would actually entail — only aspirations and gathered community comment.