Dead trees to be removed from the Fred fire burn area
The U.S. Forest Service says it needs to act quickly to remove tens of thousands of dead trees from national forest land burned in the Fred fire along Highway 50 near Kyburz in October.
Time is of the essence because the trees would not be as commercially valuable if the work doesn’t get done this summer. The value of the timber would pay for work needed to restore the forest and reduce fire danger created by the trees, said Frank Mosbacher, spokesman for the Eldorado National Forest.
“If there was no market value for the trees then we’d have to use some (federal) appropriations dollars that we may not get,” Mosbacher said.
The Forest Service proposed plan of action coincides with work on an environmental study to analyze the potential impact of the tree removal. A decision on the matter is expected early this summer and the document will be made available for public comment.
Of the 7,700 acres affected by the fire, 4,600 acres are managed by Forest Service. The logging of standing dead trees would occur on 3,100 acres of that land and be done by cable and helicopter logging in steeper areas.
The agency says its proposal takes into account the impact the tree removal would have on wildlife, streams and soil, while it also addresses fire danger. A separate proposal to address how the burned areas could be reforested and restored will be completed at a later date.
“The Fred fire burned very intensely across most of the landscape killing 75 to 100 percent of the trees,” said Eldorado National Forest Supervisor John Berry. “Today there are tens of thousands of dead trees that will fall to the ground in five to 10 years and become a tremendous fire hazard if they are not removed in a timely fashion.”
If the trees are removed, small branches and twigs left behind would help prevent erosion. And restoration efforts would help protect two spotted owl habitats in the area. One owl habitat area was destroyed by the fire, according to the Forest Service.
The agency will conduct a public meeting on its proposal to remove the dead trees in the Pollock Pines Community Center at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13. The Forest Service’s proposal is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado or by calling agency headquarters at (530) 622-5061.