Photo courtesy of Summit County Open Space and Trails

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – This week, the Colorado State Forest Service, Summit County Open Space and Trails, and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps began the first phase of a hazardous fuels reduction and forest health treatment at Settler’s Creek Open Space in east Keystone. Work will last for three weeks and include chainsaw felling and piling of dead and diseased lodgepole pine.

“This site was selected based on the large quantity of standing dead, beetle-killed pine and the abundance of parasitic dwarf-mistletoe, along with the proximity to homes and critical infrastructure including the Xcel Energy transmission line,” said Jordan Mead, resource specialist with Summit County Open Space and Trails.

The treatment aims to eliminate the dead and mistletoe-infested lodgepole pines, which are susceptible to drought, fire and other diseases. Settler’s Creek has an abundance of aspen regeneration in the understory, along with healthy spruce, pine and fir saplings.

“By removing diseased lodgepole pine, we will open up space for healthy seedlings and saplings to grow into the canopy,” Mead said.

Community Protection, Wildlife Benefits

Aspen stands retain higher moisture levels than pine stands and can serve as a fuelbreak under certain conditions. Promoting aspen will also increase natural cover and forage for wildlife, which use the nearby Jones Gulch as a movement corridor.

Neighbors in the Settler’s Creek, Alders, Trapper’s Crossing and Ski Tip subdivisions should expect to hear chainsaws running on weekdays through the duration of the project. Trails and access routes will be closed for short periods, not to exceed 30 minutes at a time, to fell trees near these routes and clear the downed trees. Anyone travelling through the project area should use an abundance of caution and obey all posted signage.

Map courtesy of Summit County Open Space and Trails

The second phase of the project will include 1-2 pile burn days in the winter of 2022. Burning will occur with at least 6 inches of snow on the ground and a forecast that ensures adequate smoke ventilation and rapid pile consumption.

This project is funded by a Great Outdoors Colorado Conservation Youth Corps Grant, along with the Summit County Strong Futures Fund, which dedicates $1 million annually for wildfire mitigation strategies. For more information, please visit www.summitcountyco.gov/1443/32003/Settlers-Creek-Hazardous-Fuels-Reduction.