Forest Service OKs Eagle County beetle-kill plans

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— Local forest officials have signed off on plans to remove some beetle-infested pines from certain areas within the White River National Forest.

The project aims to promote forest health and reduce fire fuels on about 1,763 acres of lodgepole pines within the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District. Work will take place within the Indian Creek, West Grouse, Tigiwon and Yoder areas in the upper Eagle River watershed.

Dave Neely, district ranger for the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District recently signed a decision notice for the work, named the “Upper Eagle River Beetle Salvage Project.”

The project strives to accelerate regeneration of forest stands killed by mountain pine beetle and, where feasible, increase the distribution of aspen, spruce and fir trees. Also, the project will set out to prepare the sites for planting and natural regeneration by removing dead, dying and susceptible lodgepole pines that would interfere with regeneration.

Additionally, the work will aim to reduce fuels for fires in the forest in the long term by removing dead, dying and susceptible trees. It will reduce hazardous fuels in areas around the town of Minturn where wilderness abuts human development. It also will generate salvage revenues while the trees still are able to be sold to help offset the costs of treatment and reforestation.

The project also aims to provide safety zones and anchor points for firefighting efforts in the event of a wildfire. It also hopes to protect recreation facilities, keep roads and trails open and provide for public safety by removing dead trees.

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