Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests began implementation of the Wilder-Highlands Mountain Pine Beetle Response Project the week of June 8. The project will focus on the treatment of lodgepole pine forests experiencing a bark beetle outbreak near the Wilder On the Taylor and Gunnison Highlands communities northeast of Gunnison.
In the summer of 2019, USDA Forest Service personnel identified trees in declining health near Wilder on the Taylor, a historic ranch located on more than 2,100 acres. Surveys determined that pine beetle was causing the epidemic levels of decline on both private and National Forest System lands. The primary purpose of the project is to treat the mountain pine beetle-affected stands, reduce the risk of mountain pine beetle spread and diminish the potential for catastrophic wildfires in the wildland urban interface.
The project, which was authorized earlier this spring following the agency’s NEPA process, is a holistic and highly collaborative effort between the project partners, including the Colorado State Forest Service, National Forest Foundation and Wilder on the Taylor and Gunnison Highlands communities. Private landowners within the project area have provided important project access to their road systems and land in order to protect the National Forest and mitigate wildfire risk in Taylor Canyon.
Activities will include sanitation, removal and long-term preventive treatments on nearly 100 acres of private and National Forest System lands. Equipment and tools utilized will include traditional and mechanized logging equipment, as well as helicopter logging systems. Travelers on US Highway 135 between Almont and Gunnison, as well as those heading up Taylor Canyon toward Taylor Reservoir, CR-742 or traveling along Wilder Mountain Road or Lost Canyon Road/CR-743, may encounter logging trucks removing materials from the project site.
For more information, contact Joe Lavorini, Gunnison County Stewardship Fund coordinator, at 720-670-6254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.