March came in like a lamb Monday and Jaimie Zelkin, left, Julie McFadden and Kristin Kotkas took advantage of mild weather to climb Emerald Mountain from Blackmer Drive. Trail closures because of salvage logging operations this month will affect skiers and hikers. See the full story on page 3.

Photo by Tom Ross

March came in like a lamb Monday and Jaimie Zelkin, left, Julie McFadden and Kristin Kotkas took advantage of mild weather to climb Emerald Mountain from Blackmer Drive. Trail closures because of salvage logging operations this month will affect skiers and hikers. See the full story on page 3.

Steamboat trails scheduled to close Wednesday

Dead-tree clearing to start Wednesday on Blackmer, Lane of Pain

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— Logging on Emerald Moun­tain will begin Wednesday, closing Blackmer Drive and the Lane of Pain trail as contractors continue a $1 million operation to clear dead tress in the Steamboat Springs area.

The dead-tree-clearing program on Blackmer Drive will take several weeks, and the trail will be closed for the duration of the project as big trucks move in and out of the area.

Much of the land is owned by Lyman Orton. Bernadette Murray, his executive assistant, said the groups involved are going to work to create an alternate trail access to the area while the 1.92 mile-long Blackmer Drive is closed.

The project is funded through a $1 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Colorado State Forest Service. Mike Miller, of Rogue Resources, said the logging work is concluding in the Spring Creek area, and crews expect to begin working on Emerald soon. Rogue Resources is specifically mentioned in the grant and is the city’s contractor for the project.

Anne Small, the city’s purchasing and contracts manager, said the grant includes 305 acres in and around Steamboat. The final deadline for all work is September 2011, but Small said the work likely will be completed this summer.

“It’s not necessarily that they’re beetle-kill,” she said. “The idea is to remove any dead or dying tree because a dead or dying tree is … fire fuel.”

Orton, in a letter to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, wrote that benefits of clearing out the area will outweigh the inconvenience for the next several weeks.

He wrote that the cable logging will create some “vertical cuts,” and some of those may become backcountry ski runs, while others eventually will regrow. The work should also be done in time for summer mountain-biking season, when the area is used heavily.

“The beetle-kill is unfortunate, but I believe there is a silver lining to it, and I invite you to help discover the opportunities,” Orton wrote.

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