Smuggler open; helicopter work now set for Monday | AspenTimes.com

Smuggler open; helicopter work now set for Monday

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesSmuggler Mountain, rising above Aspen, is open for hiking and biking Thursday after all. Scheduled logging work involving a helicopter has been delayed until Monday.

ASPEN – Helicopter work that had been expected to close Smuggler Mountain for much of the day Thursday has now been postponed until Monday.

The roads and trails on the mountain flanking Aspen are open Thursday and will remain open for recreation through the weekend.

Though the helicopter is based out of Montrose, Colo., it has been difficult to get the relatively small Smuggler project worked into the chopper’s schedule, according to Gary Tennenbaum, land steward for Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.

“The problem is, there are few helicopter companies that do this kind of stuff, so we’re kind of at their mercy,” he said.

“We are confusing the public to no end, and we’re sorry about that,” Tennenbaum added.

Smuggler was originally scheduled to be closed on Monday or Tuesday; then the closure was pushed back to Thursday.

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Monday, June 21, appears definite, unless weather interferes, Tennenbaum said.

“We’re getting tons of calls. People think Smuggler is closed,” he said. “Tons of people like to hike Smuggler.”

The trees to be hauled by the chopper have already been cut. The helicopter will be used to pick them up and carry them to a central site on open space owned by Aspen and Pitkin County.

Roughly 52 pines have been felled in the second year of a project to slow the advance of the mountain pine beetle on the open space. The trees are either infested with beetle larvae or already dead and deemed hazardous to recreation on Smuggler because they could fall at any time.

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