1:42pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Environment

Helicopter Logging To Mitigate Fire Danger Near Minturn

Helicopter logging on the Summit Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest in 2009.
Credit U.S.F.S. / Flickr

Helicopters are removing pine beetle killed trees just south of Minturn, in an effort by the Forest Service to mitigate the increasing wildfire danger.

Dave Neely is the District Ranger for the White River National Forest.

"...we think it's far better to be flying logs now then to endure a helicopter flying water buckets as a wildfire approaches a community"

He says the helicopters will be logging select trees over 75 steep acres, which was why helicopters needed to be used.

“This contract was actually awarded back in 2009, and for a variety of reasons there were delays,” said Neely.

“Ironically, in the past two years the contractor had difficulty hiring a helicopter because they were so busy fighting wildfires,” he said.

The logged trees are headed to a mill and will be processed into pellets.

“Before the operation started we went back down and talked to the Minturn town council, made them aware, they’re enthusiastic supporters of this.”

But, Neely adds, they know that some people may not be on board.

“Clearly in any community there are people who are going to be more or less pleased with logging in general and right now the helicopter because of the warm weather we’re having it’s starting early in the morning to take advantage of cool temperatures so it can lift heavier loads,” Neely said.

He adds that they have received some complaints, but says early morning helicopter noise over the next two weeks is preferable to high fire risk.

“What we’re asking people to remember is that while it is an inconvenience, we think it’s far better to be flying logs now then to endure a helicopter flying water buckets as a wildfire approaches a community,” said Neely.