BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Local, state and federal agencies have completed the first phase of their joint work to reduce wildfire fuels and improve forest health on the Wellington side of the Golden Horseshoe Trail System east of Breckenridge. Crews completed work on 94 acres, which includes 45 acres of Summit County and Town of Breckenridge open space and 49 acres of the White River National Forest.

“Together we can do more. Building partnerships enables us to cross forest boundaries to create more effective treatments to better steward our forests. This has truly been a team effort from project planning to funding to communications,” said Ashley Garrison, forester with Colorado State Forest Service in Summit County.

The U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, Summit County Open Space & Trails and the Town of Breckenridge Open Space & Trails collaborated on this cross-boundary, shared stewardship project.

This project expanded and linked fuel breaks near the Wellington neighborhood and decreases potential fire intensity and crown fire potential. Summit County communities now have more defensible space in the wildland-urban interface where healthy, long-term forest conditions are fostered through regeneration of lodgepole pine and expansion of aspen, which will thrive in favorable, full-sun conditions. The project area could also serve as a community protection zone where firefighters could engage a wildfire effectively.

Aspen stands are expected to expand into the recently cut area. Crews also thinned lodgepole pines from a stand of limber pines on the edge of the project unit. Limber pines are somewhat rare in Summit County and are not adapted to frequent or high-severity fire. By removing the ingrowth of lodgepole pines, the limber pines have a better chance of surviving a potential fire.

Slash piles will cure (dry) over the next year, with burn operations expected in the winter of 2021-22 or 2022-23, in accordance with burning protocols from the local fire protection district.

Federal and State Forest service employees will continue to monitor the project area for invasive species (weeds) and natural revegetation including native grasses and forbs, aspen suckers and conifer regeneration. The area is expected to naturally revegetate, and invasive species will be treated as appropriate. Researchers with The Nature Conservancy also will be monitoring aspen growth and stand health.

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.

View a project video courtesy of Cameron Sale (camsalefilmdept.com) here https://vimeo.com/476363699 and get more info about the project at: www.summitcountyco.gov/1394/Wellington-Forestry-Project.