Letter: Healthy forests outweigh short-term inconvenience in Basalt
December 7, 2016
In a recent article featured in The Aspen Times, concerns regarding the implementation of the Frying Pan Vegetation Management Project were highlighted ("Basalt, Frying Pan Road could see up to 933 logging truck trips from forest health project," Nov. 30, The Aspen Times). Specifically, concerns related to the amount of logging-truck traffic that could potentially impact the Frying Pan road.
While I certainly understand the concerns of residents such as Bruce Gabow, I question whether he truly recognizes the importance of the project and the need to remove the necessary wood. Background data on the project showcases the reality of the situation, which is 98 percent of the lodgepole stands and 99 percent of the spruce-fir stands in the project area are considered mature to over-mature, thus making them very susceptible to widespread insect and/or disease. I wonder if Bruce and other residents will still enjoy running and biking the road if all of the trees were to die. I certainly believe that the long-term benefits of actively managing these stands completely offsets the short-term impacts of potentially needing to reduce traffic or close the roads temporarily while the project is being implemented.
Additionally, I think it is important to note that while providing commercial forest products and/or biomass to local industries (categorized as "a short-term economic boost" in the article) is one of the goals of the project, it is not the driving purpose of the project, but rather one of the many benefits of active forest management. Secondly, I question whether Councilman Auden Schendler understands the implications of not doing active management could have on the summer economy of Basalt? Throughout Colorado, you don't have to look far to find mountain towns that not only lost their entire summer economic season due to wildfire, but are still dealing with the long-term of effects such as flooding, closed roads and trails, etc.
So, before giving up on the project completely, I encourage everyone who has concerns to be involved with the process. Instead of focusing on just the negatives and the potential inconvenience of the project, focus on the positives such as healthy forests and wildlife habitat. Be willing to compromise and find solutions as the project is further developed.
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