Vail resumes battle against beetles |

Vail resumes battle against beetles

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Crew member Nate Kohut used a chainsaw to cut down a pine beetle-infested tree last summer in Vail. (Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily file)

VAIL, Colo. ” Crews will cut trees on more than 200 acres around Vail this summer in their continuing efforts to battle the pine beetle epidemic.

This summer’s work will continue to create a ribbon of “defensible space” around the town that seeks to prevent the spread of fire, either from the forest into town or vice versa.

“It’s to protect lives, homes and property from the effects of catastrophic wildfire,” said Tom Talbot, wildland coordinator for the Vail Fire Department.

The town will spend about $530,000 for the work this year, and Eagle County and the U.S. Forest Service will each chip in another $100,000 worth of work.

The work is part of the Vail Valley Forest Health Project, a multi-year effort coordinated by the Forest Service that seeks to combat the pine beetle infestation from East Vail to Edwards.

The mountain pine beetle epidemic has killed up to 90 percent of mature lodgepole pine in some areas near Vail.

Lou Meskimen lives in Pitkin Creek Park, which is across the interstate in East Vail from an area where trees will be cut this summer. He said he has noticed the beetle-killed trees in the area.

“It’s just a cleanup of the fuel for fire,” he said of the planned project. “It’s very good to do it.”

The town of Vail has again hired a six-person summer hand crew to cut trees around Vail. The summer’s planned projects include:

– North Trail at Davos, 6.5 acres. Work will include cutting and piling of lodgepole pines around the trail, which may be closed periodically. Piles of trees will be burned in the fall.

– West Vail North, 12 acres. Cutting and piling of lodgepole pines and aspens above Safeway will occur to help regenerate the forest. Burning will happen in the fall.

– Sandstone, 12.5 acres. Trees will be cut along Red Sandstone Road, with burning scheduled for the fall.

– Middle Creek, 25 acres. Work will occur about a quarter-mile north of the Middle Creek Village Apartments. Burning is scheduled for the fall.

– Golf course, 10 acres. Dead and dying beetle-infested trees will be cut around the course. Wood chips from the dead trees will be available. Call 401-4202 for more information.

– Bighorn Creek, 39 acres. Lodgepole pines and aspens will be cut to regenerate the forest, with burning to take place in the fall.

– Gore Creek, 110 acres. Lodgepoles and aspens will be felled west of the Gore Creek campground in East Vail. Burning is slated for the fall.

– Twin Bridges, 4 acres. Cutting lodgepole pines in East Vail at mile market 181.5, with piles to be burned in the fall. Firewood will be available on a first-come, first-served basis after July 4. Call 401-4202 for more information.

– Helicopters in Intermountain, 55 acres. Choppers will be used to remove 300-400 trees that were cut last fall near the water tank in Intermountain. The work will be partially funded by the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. The logging will begin the week of June 23.

Last year, crews worked to created a 90-acre clear-cut area of “defensible space.”