North Routt Logging in parts of the Routt National Forest broken by a rare windstorm three years ago will resume this summer and U.S. Forest Service officials want people traveling in north Routt to use extra caution.
Next week, logging crews are expected to move wood out of 597 acres in the Downdraft salvage area and 760 acres of the Jet Stream salvage area of the Routt Divide Blow-down. Both sites are north of the Slavonia trailhead, about 10 miles northeast of Clark. Clark is about 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs on County Road 129.
Combined, about 240,000 trees will be moved by truck. That equals 24 million board feet of wood, according to Forest Service figures.
The Routt Divide Blowdown is an area of forest encompassing about 20,000 acres that was devastated by a windstorm in October 1997. Winds in excess of 130 mph roared over the Continental Divide from the east and knocked over or uprooted hundreds of thousands of trees.
Logging began last week in the South Fork salvage area, near the Hinman campground. That sale is on 356 acres of land, with 350,000 trees, or 3.5 million board feet.
The three areas being logged are part of the 37 million board feet of wood from 2,800 acres of downed trees that the Forest Service has sold to logging companies.
People traveling on Forest Service roads in those areas and C.R. 129 are urged to be extra careful of logging trucks transporting the wood, Forest Service representative Danny Gomez said.
"There will be about one or two trucks a day (from each area)," he said.
For the Jet Stream and Downdraft areas, the trucks will travel south on Lost Dog Road to Seedhouse Road, then west to C.R. 129 and south to U.S. 40.
From the intersection of C.R. 129 and U.S. 40 in west Steamboat, some of the trucks will head west to K&K Log Yard near Milner or east through Steamboat Springs. Those trucks will cross over Rabbit Ears Pass, drive to Walden and then hang a left toward Saratoga, Wyo.
Trucks from the South Fork salvage area also will be seen on Seedhouse Road heading to C.R. 129 and U.S. 40., but they will begin their journey on Forest Roads 400.1, 440.2 and 441.
No hiking trails will be closed because of the logging, Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Pipher said.
"We only do that if there's helicopter logging going on," she said.
Helicopters will be used in the Zephyr salvage, which is about 400 acres of land also in the Slavonia area. Logging is expected to begin there in the fall.
The Gold Creek Trail may have be closed for that job to be done because helicopters will fly over the path carrying loads of timber, Pipher said.
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The U.S. Forest Service doesnt believe that bark beetles in logs being hauled to the mill can infest live trees along the way. Some trees being logged from the 1997 Routt Divide Blowdown are infected with the spruce beetle. In large numbers, beetles can kill a great number of trees. Some concerns have been raised about the insects flying from logging trucks to healthy stands of trees, Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Pipher said. Logged timber is being hauled down County Road 129 in Routt County through the Elk River Valley on its way to either a storage area near Milner or a lumber mill in Saratoga Wyo. Though the insects can fly off the trucks, they dont do it in numbers large enough to successfully infest a tree. It simply doesnt happen, Pipher said. A study done during a 1992 mountain-pine-beetle epidemic in South Dakota showed that trees stayed healthy along logging routes where trucks carried infested timber, she said.