Photo by Matt Stensland
Steamboat Springs resident Dianne Stoyko, right, and Nicole Melcher, of Spokane, Wash., walk along the Spring Creek trail Thursday afternoon where recent logging has left parts of the trail littered with debris. Work still is under way to clean up areas where dead lodgepole pine trees were removed.
Steamboat Springs Owner Mike Miller said Rogue Resources would not leave Spring Creek Trail and Emerald Mountain trails near Blackmer Drive in their current, debris-filled state created by logging operations.
“There’s still cleanup efforts that are going on,” Miller said Thursday. “That’s not how (trails) are going to be left.”
The slash-laden condition of the trails has raised concerns, if not outright anger, among recreational users in the aftermath of logging operations funded by a $1 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Colorado State Forest Service. The city of Steamboat Springs received the grant during fall for removal of trees that present a wildfire risk in the Steamboat area.
Contractor Rogue Resources scheduled more than a year for the project, which started during winter in the Spring Creek area. Crews then moved to parts of Emerald Mountain and now are on Mount Werner and in the Burgess Creek area.
Tree removal for the entire project is planned on about 305 acres split among 30 units, involving 135 landowners from the Spring Creek area to Storm Mountain Ranch at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass.
Miller said this year’s lingering winter weather and wet spring delayed cleanup efforts, which he plans to resume in the Spring Creek and Blackmer Drive areas in mid-June.
“We still have to haul all the logs off Emerald and clean that up and repair the road,” Miller said, adding that work planned for Spring Creek Trail includes significant slash removal.
Gretchen Sehler, director of the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series, said she spent much of Thursday clearing brush from trails on Emerald Mountain.
A few of those trails are open, she said.
“Earlier this week, we just opened Larry’s to MGM, and (Thursday) we opened Lupine. … The bottom part is not open, so you need to come up Blackmer Drive to access Lupine,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll have at least one or two more trails open for the weekend up here on Emerald.”
She said she’s taking a long-term view of the debris.
“A logging operation, it’s a big thing. … It’s for the best and the health of Emerald Mountain,” she said. “Sometimes you have to deal with a little bit of unpleasantness to have it the best it can be. … I’d rather have what we have here than a big, huge fire up there.”