Friday, April 17, 2015

Forest Service to begin fuels reduction project along Ridge Road in Nederland

U.S. Forest Service contractors are expected to begin work this month on a fuels reduction project that also will improve forest health on the Roosevelt National Forest near Nederland. The work will occur on a 122-acre parcel of National Forest System land located along Ridge Road, southeast of Nederland. The parcel is surrounded on all sides by private lands.

This type of forestry work is designed to reduce existing fuel loading and increase the vegetative diversity across the landscape, encouraging a healthier, more resilient forest for future generations. Age and species diversity across the landscape helps make forests more resilient to climate change, disease and insect infestations, and helps reduce the spread and severity of wildfire.

This particular parcel, known as the Ridge Road Unit (see a map), will be treated to stimulate the growth of ponderosa pine and aspen over time. The work involves cutting both live and dead trees of varying sizes and species to give the ponderosa pine a competitive advantage. Aspen stands and open meadows will be enhanced and expanded, improving wildlife habitat for a diversity of species. In places where predominantly lodgepole pine grew, the treatment will jump start the growth of a younger stand of trees, creating a greater variety in the ages of lodgepole pine stands across the broader landscape.

Trees on this parcel will be cut by hand using chainsaws. Smaller material will be piled to burn and/or chip. Larger material will be cut into four-foot lengths and left on the forest floor. Once work begins, crews are expected to be on site for several weeks, working between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The piled material will need to cure for several years before it can be burned. When the work is complete, the area will open to firewood collection, providing an ideal opportunity for area residents to stock up for the winter season close to home. Only unpiled material lying on the ground will be available for gathering. Permits cost $20 per cord and will be available through the Boulder Ranger District office later this summer.

Environmental effects of this project were analyzed in the Sugarloaf Environmental Assessment (2004), which was focused on reducing hazardous fuels along the wildland urban interface. This is one of the last projects to be implemented out of the Sugarloaf Decision.

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