May 11, 2012
Downed trees resulting from a severe windstorm last November are being cleared from trails and recreation areas by U.S. Forest Service workers and volunteers in the San Carlos Ranger District of the San Isabel National Forest. The agency warned of impacts to forest users with some trails and points of access blocked in Custer County.
Effects of the blowdown extended into the Salida Ranger District in Chaffee County.
“Due to the severity and potential hazards created by this natural event, it may be necessary to administratively close trails to public use this summer to protect public safety and allow sawyer crews to perform operations,” said ranger Paul Crespin.
This effects an estimated 100 miles of trails, including some trails extending into the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness Area where mechanized transportation and/or motorized equipment are restricted. In these areas, cross-cut saws will be used to remove downfall.
Hazard trees could fall without warning
The greatest concentration of downed trees, said USFS, is in the Duckett Creek area and Alvarado Campground in Custer County. Some trails have over 90 trees blocking use, including Rainbow Trail.
While plans have been developed to address the highest priority needs and areas of impact, clean-up efforts may extend beyond this summer. The agency warns that visitors should be prepared to encounter blowdown conditions and hazard trees that pose a danger, including hazards created by uprooted, unstable trees that could still fall without warning. USFS urges users to not cut trees out of trails and roads.
Local volunteer groups including the Backcountry Horsemen, The Great Old Broads for Wilderness and the Cliffe Riders are assisting the USFS with clearing efforts.
Heavily impacted developed recreation areas and roads include:
- Duckett Creek Trailhead
- Venable/Comanche TH
- Music Pass TH
- Gibson Creek TH
- Alvarado Campground (CG)
- Cloverdale Basin
- Rito Alta Mine
- Hermit Pass
- South Colony Basin
- Music Pass
- Medano Pass