Feb 21, 2014 10:55 PM by Tony Spehar
The process of removing potentially dangerous burned trees from the Black Forest Fire burn scar has begun, a project that will be ongoing for the next few months.
The sound of falling trees and heavy equipment is something many in Black Forest should be getting used to. Contractors working for El Paso County have started cutting down trees burned during the Black Forest fire that could potentially topple over. On Friday, crews were cutting trees in Black Forest Regional Park.
"It it was a pretty devastating fire that went through here," described Chris Lynch of True North Emergency Management, a company monitoring the tree removal work.
Trees targeted for cutting by the county are burned trees within 60-feet of public trails or right-of-ways as well as trees in danger of coming down on top of a building, trail or road.
"Six-inches diameter at four-and-a-half-feet above ground and either the top has lost 50-percent of the needles or the trunk of the tree has been scorched 50-percent of the diameter," explained Lynch. "It's a falling hazard."
Trees that are brought down will either be mulched or used as erosion control barriers. The work is just beginning, Black Forest Regional Park is at the center of the first of six zones covering the burn scar that will all eventually be cleared of hazard trees. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing 75-percent of the project's funding.
"FEMA's deadline is by the mid to the end of July, so I think you're going to see things going pretty quickly," County Commissioner Darryl Glenn explained.
Commissioner Glenn, who represents the Black Forest area, said it would be difficult to see so many of the tree's that make up Black Forest come down. But, cutting down dead or dying trees is in the interest of public safety.
"There might be some areas where we have to actually thin the forest, but overall I think we're going to come back very strong," Glenn said.
With another wildfire and flood season approaching, Glenn said it's more important than ever to get recovery work done.
"We still need to focus on mitigation, because something could happen again," he explained. "While we're doing this we want to make sure that we get the community rallying behind defensible space around their homes."
Work to clear hazardous trees along roads will begin on Monday, no road closures are scheduled but traffic near work zones could be slow.
More information about hazardous tree removal in Black Forest can be found at http://www.elpasoco.com/pages/SafetyandAssistance.aspx