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Forest Service partners with volunteers to clear downed trees

Hattison Rensberry
Some downed trees at the White River National Forest just outside Carbondale. Forest Service employees and volunteers have their work cut out for them this summer after historic winds downed thousands of trees this spring

This year, downed trees are more common in the White River National Forest and local recreation areas than in previous years.

Teams have worked diligently to clear the trails and make these spaces safer for hikers, bikers and more.

Shelly Grail, Aspen-Sopris District Recreation Manager with the US Forest Service, says there are more downed trees because of significant winds this past spring.

"As a result, we have seen a pretty substantial amount of downed timber on our trails and roads across the district. I don't know what caused this wind event, I'm sure there are a lot of experts out there who can better describe why those spring wind events occurred like they did," Grail said. "But what I can say is that we do have a lot of work to do this summer on our trails and roads because of that."

Hattison Rensberry
Downed trees in the White River National Forest. The Forest Service asks people to do what they can to not widen the trail if they encounter a downed tree

Grail encourages people who encounter a downed tree while out on trails or roads, to do what they can to not widen the trail, and not create new social trails.

"And know that we will get to those trails and routes as soon as we can," Grail said.

This summer the Forest Service has partnered with some volunteer agencies on clearing these downed trees out including the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, Colorado Backcountry Trail Riders Association and High Country Four Wheelers.

Grail says having this type of volunteer participation has been invaluable.

"So every time I go by a large tree that has been cut in a wilderness area, I stop and pause and say a short thank you," Grail said. "Because it's a lot of work to keep these trails cleared."

This story from KDNK was shared with Aspen Public Radio via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, including Aspen Public Radio.

Hattison Rensberry grew up in Rifle, CO and earned her bachelor’s degree in graphic design and drawing at the University of Northern Colorado. She comes to KDNK as reporter and host after working on the design-side of news for the past three years. Hattie does theater locally, photography, needlecrafts, and also provides editorial design for the Sopris Sun.