Tree cutting set in backcountry near Aspen |

Tree cutting set in backcountry near Aspen

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – A hotshot fire crew out of Buena Vista will cut dead or dying trees along various trails in and near the Hunter Creek Valley on the outskirts of Aspen next week.

The Juniper Valley Hotshots are scheduled to begin cutting the hazard trees – ones that could fall across a trail – with chainsaws on Monday. The project is expected to take five days, and various trails in the valley and on adjacent Red and Smuggler mountains will be closed while the work is under way, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s Aspen-Sopris Ranger District office.

Slated for work are the Hunter Valley, Hunter Creek, Sunnyside Plunge, Iowa Shaft, Grand Turk and Cutoff trails. They were chosen for the tree removal because they receive heavy use, the agency said.

The project will reduce the hazard posed by trees that have been hit by bark beetles, according to the Forest Service.

“The trees will be left on site adjacent to the trail,” said Jon Thompson, forestry technician, in a press release. “We understand this will reduce the visual quality for trail users; however, public safety will be greatly improved.”

According to the Forest Service, the pre-emptive work will reduce future maintenance costs, since trees that are likely to fall will be cut and won’t have to be cleared from a trail later.

Twenty miles of trails on the White River National Forest will be cleared this summer, and about 100 miles will be cleared next year. Forest trail specialists will be inventorying and marking trees this summer.

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