Helicopter logging operations will be taking place soon to reduce the wildfire risk on U.S. Forest Service land near the Intermountain neighborhood in West Vail. 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.
Preparation work is scheduled to begin in the next few days when crews will arrive to cut dead and diseased trees in preparation for the helicopter removal, which will occur later this month and into September. Crews will be working from dawn to dusk, Monday through Friday, with some cutting and hauling of logs allowed on Saturdays. The helicopter operations will be limited to daylight hours Monday through Friday and will continue for approximately three weeks.
The 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, with fuel reduction work completed on 17 acres.
The upcoming helicopter logging will be used to target a 43-acre area with the removal of approximately 3,000 tons of woody fuel to significantly reduce wildfire hazards in the area. The trees will be flown by a Blackhawk helicopter to log landing areas on the upper bench of Donovan Park and Deer Underpass State Wildlife Area, located at the west end of Basingdale Boulevard. The operation will require temporary closures of a portion of Matterhorn Circle.
Logs removed during the helicopter logging will later be sent to wood processing facilities in Colorado to make useable wood products such as firewood, heating pellets and dimensional lumber. 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 four to five 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 Dr., 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 Resorts; 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 970-477-2250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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