SALIDA – As snow signals ski season is just weeks away, logging equipment can be seen moving across Monarch Ski Area.
Mountain regulars are aware of what’s going on, an operation to remove trees killed by Spruce Beetles.
Remaining slash piles are large, but smaller than the ones seen earlier this summer.
The first year of work removed trees from 120 acres, and several hundred more acres will be treated over the next couple of years. This will be just one piece of a much larger infestation on Forest Service land.
Monarch works with the U.S. Forest Service, as the ski area operates with a special use permit from the agency. Along with maintaining lifts and supporting winter recreation, there is an attitude of good stewardship toward the forest land.
The removal process takes out beetle kill and leaves healthy trees behind, leaving thick stands of trees noticeably thinner.
Looking at what can be rather than what was means recycling and reusing. Trees in the worst shape are turned to mulch, while others are sent to sawmills for lumber. One Colorado ski maker is even turning some trees into skis.
Looking back at the mountain, you can see spaces where there used to be trees. Looking with eyes of a skier though, you can see new pockets for stashes of powder. The changes create a terrain opportunity for those with the will, or the skill to ski trees.