Tree-removal proposal weighed

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— Comments on a proposal to remove dead or dying trees near roads, campgrounds and trails in the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest will be accepted until July 13.

The proposal is the result of a vast bark beetle infestation in the forest that has weakened or killed many trees. Forest service staff believes some of those trees may pose a danger.

"The bark beetle epidemic on the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests has created a public safety hazard due to the potential of dead and dying trees to fall," said Steve Currey, director of renewable resources for the national forest.

The National Forest Service estimates more than 250,000 pines are infected with the pine beetle in the Routt National Forest, and approximately 1.2 million pines are infected statewide.

According to a letter written by Forest Supervisor Mary H. Peterson and sent to interested parties, the removal also is needed to reduce forest fire fuel hazards and to maintain and protect visual quality along roads and in developed recreation and administrative sites.

The proposal would allow trees to be felled or removed up to 200 feet from the centerline of forest service, state and county roads; tress in or adjacent to campgrounds, administrative sites, trailheads and trails could also be removed.

Trees would be prioritized for removal by the severity of bark beetle infestation, mortality of trees potential for safety hazard, Currey said.

The forest service will use public comments and an environmental analysis to make a decision by August 15 whether to implement the proposal or an alternative. The project would begin in the fall.

More information on the proposal and instructions for commenting can be found at www.fs.fed.us/r2/mbr/projects/foresthealth/index.shtml.

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