Forest in Wellington Fuels Reduction Project Area - Photo courtesy Colorado State Forest Service
A section of forest containing dead trees in the Wellington Fuels Reduction Project Area.
Photo: Colorado State Forest Service

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – During the week of Sept. 14, local, state and federal agencies are expected to commence work on a project to reduce wildfire fuels and improve forest health on public land adjacent to the Wellington neighborhood east of Breckenridge.

The work will take place on the Wellington side of the Golden Horseshoe Trail System on the White River National Forest, as well as Summit County and Town of Breckenridge open spaces.

The U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, Summit County Open Space & Trails and the Town of Breckenridge Open Space & Trails are collaborating on this cross-boundary project, which will improve forest health on 94 acres, including 45 acres of Summit County and Town of Breckenridge open space and 49 acres of national forest.

Promoting Healthy, Long-Term Forest Conditions

The project will decrease the risk and impacts of wildfires to adjacent Summit County communities in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), create defensible space near homes and construct fuel breaks. It will also foster healthy, long-term forest conditions by promoting the regeneration of lodgepole pine and expansion of aspen. Additionally, the project area could serve as a community protection zone where firefighters could engage a wildfire effectively.

Forests in the project area are overly dense and contain many dead trees from old age and mountain pine beetle-caused mortality. Crews will hand-cut and pile trees according to approved science-based prescriptions.

Trees in this area are primarily lodgepole pine and aspen. Lodgepole pines tend to grow in a stand of trees the same age. Once mature, they rely on large-scale disturbances, such as a wildfire, to regenerate new, healthy forests. Cutting down many of the trees will mimic a large, stand-replacing disturbance, like a fire. This allows ample sunlight to reach the forest floor, which provides the heat needed for lodgepole pine cones to open and release their seeds. The open conditions will also provide the sunlight needed for pine and aspen seedlings to thrive.

Impacts to Residents, Trail Users

Wellington Fuels Reduction Project MapVisitors to the Golden Horseshoe Trail System may experience periodic, temporary closures to trails and roads in the area when work is in close proximity to the road, with the closures not exceeding 30 minutes. Area residents could hear noise from the work and see forestry activities in the area and occasional, intermittent traffic on local roads.

Crews will be on-site in this area through October 2020 and return in the spring of 2021. The project is expected to be completed by October of 2021.

The project is part of the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service Good Neighbor Authority program. Funding for the project comes from the Summit County 1A Strong Future Fund, U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and Denver Water’s Forests to Faucets II program.

For more information, please contact Ashley Garrison, forester with the Colorado State Forest Service, at (719) 466-9626, or visit www.summitcountyco.gov/1316/Wellington-Forestry-Project.