Contractors have made good progress on the Vail Intermountain Fuels Project which has involved use of a helicopter to fly logs to a staging area. To date, the helicopter has flown approximately 25 hours and moved 40 semi-truck loads of wood from the forest to the landing. Residents will notice a pause in the helicopter operations over the week of October 2 as ground crews continue to haul wood from the western landing. The project is part of a multi-year fuels reduction project coordinated by the White River National Forest, Colorado State Forest Service and Vail Fire & Emergency Services.
Wood has been removed from approximately 20 of the total 43 acres of the project area, thus far. The helicopter is scheduled to return the week of October 9 to complete flying operations to the western landing, and then switch to bringing wood to the designated landing on Upper Matterhorn Circle. Helicopter operations will continue until Oct. 13 when the yarding will be complete.
The work, to date, represents nearly 200,000 board feet of timber, or roughly enough wood to build 12 typical 2,000 square-foot-homes. Logs removed during the helicopter logging are being sent to wood processing facilities in Colorado to make useable wood products such as firewood, heating pellets and dimensional lumber.
The helicopter logging work represents the second phase of the Intermountain Fuels Reduction Project, which seeks to reduce the amount of fuels available for wildfire, reduce the number of dead standing trees, regenerate areas of unhealthy aspen and improve wildlife habitat. The project’s first phase began last October and was completed in August, with fuel reduction work completed on 37 acres.
For a map of the project area as well as frequently asked questions, visit www.vailgov.com/intermountainfuels.
Residents in the affected area are being notified of the helicopter logging and are being asked to be aware of the following:
- Expect approximately six to eight logging trucks leaving the landing areas each day through the Intermountain and Matterhorn neighborhoods.
- For safety reasons, nearby trails in the Intermountain area will be temporarily closed during helicopter operations, as will a portion of Matterhorn Circle. Please obey all contractor, Town of Vail and U.S. Forest Service personnel conducting traffic control in the area. It is prohibited to go into or be upon any area which is closed for the protection of Public Health and Safety. 36 CFR Section 261.53(e).
- The use of recreational drones within a quarter mile of the project area is prohibited. Drones flying in the area pose a significant safety risk and will force operations to stop for public safety. The public is reminded that “If you fly, we can’t!”
- Pets should be moved inside so they are not bothered by noise and personnel in the area.
- Stay clear of heavy equipment and crews working on the project.
- Please observe operations only from a safe distance and do not attempt to approach the area where trees are being delivered by helicopter and loaded onto trucks. Recommended viewing areas are on the north side of I-70 at Ellefson Park, 2300 Garmisch Drive, or along Davos Trail, located above Cortina Lane.
The helicopter operations are being provided by Timberline Helicopters, based in Sandpoint Idaho, under a contract with the Town of Vail and coordinated by the Colorado State Forest Service.
The Intermountain Fuels Reduction project was initiated in 2013 when a feasibility study and environmental analysis provided the authorization to move forward with the work. The last phase of the project will be the burning of slash piles left over from logging operations. Pile burning will occur when conditions are favorable, and should be complete by the winter of 2018/19. Additional details on the environmental assessment can be found at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=44884 .
The $1.1 million project is being funded by the Town of Vail and the U.S. Forest Service with additional funding assistance provided by Eagle County and The Nature Conservancy. This project is possible due to the support and cooperation of White River National Forest (Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District); The Nature Conservancy; National Forest Foundation; Vail Resort; Eagle County; Town of Vail; Colorado State Forest Service; and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
For more information, contact Paul Cada, wildland program administrator, Vail Fire & Emergency Services, at 970-477-3475 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.