City of Steamboat Springs: Emerald Mountain tree removal project 60 percent complete | SteamboatToday.com

City of Steamboat Springs: Emerald Mountain tree removal project 60 percent complete

Logs dangle beneath a helicopter like pick-up sticks the morning of Sept. 26 as they are ferried off Emerald Mountain on the edge of Steamboat Springs. The effort is part of a six-year collaboration between the city of Steamboat and the Colorado State Forest Service to remove dangerous, beetle-killed trees from an area laced with trails shared by cyclists, hikers and horseback riders.

— City officials are reporting Emerald Mountain is becoming a safer place for bikers, hikers and equestrians thanks to the recent removal of thousands of dead and hazardous trees.

But the logging project is running behind schedule.

Craig Robinson, the city's parks and open space manager, told the Parks and Recreation Commission Wednesday the work was 60 percent complete, and the bulk of the hardest work was done.

In late September, a helicopter removed close to 1,000 hazardous trees in eight hours.

The removed timber will be taken to the Milner Mall, where it will be converted into wood straw mulch.

Robinson said some challenges with weather, equipment and staffing limitations have put the logging project behind schedule.

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"The rest of the project we anticipate to move quicker," Robinson said.

Crews are actively hauling logs off of the mountain.

The pace of the project will now depend on the weather.

Most of Emerald Mountain has been reopened following the logging operations.

Robinson said trails that remain closed include the upper portion of Stairway to Heaven, Wild Rose and Abbey's.

The city has asked the public to respect trail closures, as they are put in place to protect safety.

Robinson said despite the project, cyclists have still been able to get in 20-mile rides on the city's trail system.

To help pay for the $106,500 tree removal project, the city received $62,000 in grant funds from the Colorado State Forest Service. The city matched those funds to the tune of $44,500 to treat up to 59 acres of dead, sick and diseased trees.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10