Forest on right track with pine-beetle plan

Beginning next spring, U.S. Forest Service personnel, contract workers and inmates from the Colorado Department of Corrections will deploy across the White River National Forest, removing beetle-killed pine trees that threaten the public along roads and trails and in campgrounds in the forest.

The hazard-tree removal project was announced by officials with the White River National Forest last week, and we think it is an appropriate plan for dealing with the dead trees. Furthermore, using prison inmates to help in the tree removal is a reasonable way to utilize an available and generally under-used labor source. And making the wood from the trees cut down available to private and commercial firewood crews, as fence posts and even logs for homes is a logical way to dispose of the downed timber.

Some 2.5 million acres of forest lands in Colorado — the bulk of them in the White River National Forest — have been ravaged by pine beetles. Local, state and federal officials have worked for years to develop plans, and come up with funding, to remove the beetle-killed trees in areas where they most threaten nearby homes and other structures. But White River Nation Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said the dead trees also present hazards throughout the entire forest. “By managing hazard trees along critical travel routes, we can significantly reduce the risks these trees represent to the public, our employees engaged in their everyday jobs and our firefighters,” he said in a forest press release.

In addition to trails, roads and campgrounds, forest officials will also look to remove trees where they present a hazard to forest administrative sites and historical resources.

We applaud the Forest Service for this proactive approach to what has become a growing hazard in the White River National Forest.


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