Part of upper Four Mile Road to close temporarily for logging
Five to 15 logging trucks per day expected between project site and Glenwood Springs
Backcountry skiing and snowmobile access in the Williams Peak and Four Mile Park areas will be impacted by a three-month road closure to facilitate logging operations aimed at thinning aspen stands.
Forest Service Road 300 (Upper Four Mile Road) will be closed above the snowmobile trailer parking area west of Sunlight starting Monday, possibly until mid-May, for an aspen regeneration project, White River National Forest officials said in a Thursday news release.
A logging contractor plans to commence operations as soon as Monday within about 90 acres on the north side of Williams Peak, south of Four Mile Road.
The section of road west from the parking area, which is often used as the main access for backcountry skiers to get to Williams Peak, will be closed.
An alternative groomed path for both skiers and snowmobiles to take around the closure area will be provided, Aspen Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner said.
Access through the Babbish Gulch area for skiers will not be affected.
The logging operation involves cutting aspens larger than 4 inches in diameter, which is designed to promote regeneration, Warner explained in the release.
The project went through an environmental review including a public comment process a couple of years ago.
“This work will help ensure the long-term health of aspen forests in this area by creating size and age diversity, as well as improve wildlife habitat,” Warner said.
The logging operation will put between five and 15 large trucks a day on Four Mile Road from the project site to and from Glenwood Springs, Monday through Friday.
The upper road closure is necessary for public safety and to give the trucks the space they need to operate safely, Warner said. During the logging operations, parking will be prohibited along the curve in the road below the trailer parking area and limited to the south side of the road before the curve.
A groomed snowmobile trail will lead from the parking area adjacent to Four Mile Road for about half a mile to allow public access beyond the project area.
“The road closure is mostly for public safety, because we don’t want to have snowmobiles, skiers and logging trucks all on that part of the road at the same time,” Warner said.
The logging operations are to conclude no later than May 21, when summer access into Four Mile Park is expected to reopen. However, the logging work will end when the spring snowmelt no longer allows for the work to be done without environmental degradation, he said.
In the meantime, “we intentionally wanted to make sure people could access and recreate in the same way they had been,” Warner said.
“Winter is an ideal time to cut aspen because the snowpack helps minimize surface disturbance and the timing allows the aspen to begin resprouting in the spring,” he said.
Aspen stands need periodic disturbance, and cutting areas with mature aspen stimulates their root system to vigorously regenerate, Warner also explained.
The trees that are being logged are to be taken to the Eagle Valley Clean Energy Biomass facility in Gypsum, which generates electricity through the combustion of wood.
Over the long term, the forest regeneration project will take two or three years and involve about 200 acres across four separate units of the forest.
Those additional units will be cut farther up into the Four Mile Park area and beyond.
With the logging trucks traveling to and from Glenwood Springs, “We encourage folks to be additionally careful driving up Four Mile Road and to take a little bit extra care when these operations are occurring.”
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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