In June, loggers will begin harvesting trees from a timber sale north of Steamboat that is intended to generate jobs locally, as well as curtail damage from insects and produce lumber.
The Two Bull Stewardship Sale will yield an estimated 3.5 million board feet of timber, the equivalent of 450 truckloads of logs. It also will return $30,000 to $40,000 to the Bears Ears-Hahn's Peak Ranger District of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. That money will be used to hire contractors to conduct targeted beetle control.
"We're going to use the money to spray in campgrounds, and also on the ski area, so we don't lose the large character trees -- the trees people use for shade," Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Ritschard said.
The trees harvested in the sale will be specifically marked and contained within a 525-acre parcel on the north side of Seedhouse Road, Ritschard said. The area of the timber sale is on Lester Mountain, between Seedhouse Road (Routt County Road 64) and Pearl Lake State Park. The timber logs will come from a mix of live green trees, trees infected with pine or spruce beetles and even some trees that were damaged in the Mount Zirkel fire of 2002.
The successful bidder on the timber sale was Intermountain Resources LLC of Montrose.
Ritschard said the contract is structured so that the price of the timber can fluctuate with the market. However, the approximate value is $158,000.
The timber sale will require construction of eight-tenths of a mile of new road and reconstruction of six one-hundredths of a mile of existing road.
The harvest is scheduled to begin June 15 and continue through Oct. 31. Ritschard said traffic generated by the log trucks would not impact downtown Steamboat Springs.
"We'll probably see three to four log trucks a day," Ritschard said. "They will come down Elk River (C.R. 129) and then go west on (U.S. Highway) 40 to Meeker," before continuing to the Intermountain mill in Montrose.
From a forestry standpoint, Ritschard said, the timber sale is designed to create a healthier forest through the removal of specific trees. The living trees that have been marked for removal are the oldest and biggest trees in the stand. They also are the most susceptible to beetle infestation, she said. Their removal will create room for younger trees to become more robust and resistant to beetles.
The Forest Service and the loggers also will use the opportunity to set a trap for the beetles. Where the loggers create "skid paths" to remove felled trees from the forest, a few fresh logs will be deliberately left to entice the harmful insects. The freshly felled trees give off pheremones that attract the beetles. Toward the end of the season, the felled logs should be full of beetle larvae and they will be removed and destroyed, Ritschard said.
She added that it is premature for potential contractors to contact her office regarding the tree spraying work. The Forest Service intends to host an open house within the next four to six weeks to educate contractors about stewardship contracts.
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