Cutting Trees for Forest Health

        From now until fall 2024, you might see trees being cut in certain areas near Leadville, Colorado. The U.S. Forest Service is leading this work to create a healthier environment for the forest and wildlife, as well as lessen impacts from wildfires that may occur.

        Turquoise Lake Leadville Colorado by @kiltandacamera

        Photo: @kiltandacamera

        Where

        Approximately 13,580 acres are slated for treatment areas near Turquoise Lake, Halfmoon Creek (near the Mt. Elbert north and Mt. Massive trailheads), Tennessee Pass, and Mt. Zion, says a U.S. Forest Service press release.

        When

        These forest health treatments will take place between now and November 15, 2024.

        How

        Trees will be thinned, and regeneration harvested, in some areas. You may hear noise from these mechanical treatments.

        Turquoise Lake by @chris_in_the_mountains

        Photo: @chris_in_the_mountains

        Why

        The treatments will help create forest conditions that bring the following benefits:

        • Increase forests’ resilience to infestations by mountain pine beetles and other insects and diseases.
        • Reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire; reducing hazardous fuels lessens the impacts that wildfire would have on watersheds and water system infrastructure (local and Front Range municipalities draw water from the Leadville area).
        • Improve or maintain wildlife habitat for threatened, endangered, and sensitive species, including the Canada lynx for winter foraging and denning.
        • Improve water quality, to enhance habitat for water-living creatures and enable them passage to other waters.

        “It’s the forest health benefits that we’re after,” said Leadville District Ranger Pat Mercer. “Those will pay dividends to our local ecosystem and the public by promoting better conditions into the future.”

        Aspens near Leadville Colorado by @married.to.advanture

        Photo: @married.to.advanture

        How You Can Protect the Forest

        When you visit a forest, you can also contribute to its health. Here are some ways to help.

        • Pack out all trash. Please carry out your trash, including fruit leftovers like banana peels and apple cores.
        • Pack out all human waste. Please pack out all toilet paper, sanitary supplies, and solid waste. See how to Doo Leadville-Twin Lakes Right!
        • Stay the trail. Please stay on trails, to avoid damaging sensitive alpine vegetation and creating conditions that lead to erosion.
        • Give wildlife space. If you see wildlife, please leave animals plenty of personal space—for their comfort and your safety. Here’s a quick rule of thumb! Try stretching your arm all the way out and sticking out your thumb. If your thumb doesn’t cover the animal, you are too close.

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