Monday, June 07, 2010

Winter Park tree-clearing project begins

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Work begins Monday on a massive logging project that will remove some 10,000 trees along Union Pacific's right of way through the center of Winter Park, Colo., Sky-Hi News reports. On June 1, Winter Park Town Council approved a contract with Willow Creek Logging for the removal of trees within the 200-foot wide right of way, stretching from Kings Crossing to Moffat Tunnel.

The project is being funded through a $160,000 grant from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The town received five bids, ranging from $100,000 to $270,000.  Willow Creek had the low bid at $10 per tree. The next lowest bid was $35 per tree.

The contractor will be removing everything within 50 feet of the rail line and anything dead or larger than four inches within 100 feet of the rail line. The bid guarantees a maximum price. If the tree count turns out to be less than 10,000, the contractor will credit the town. If the tree count turns out to be more than 10,000, the contractor will donate the remainder to the town.

Healthy stands of aspen, fir and spruce will be left standing.

The remainder of the funding will help pay town crews and possibly a few contractors to haul slash from the site to the town's curtain burner and for the town's crews to operate the curtain burner this summer. Willow Creek will keep the logs and will be responsible for removing them.

Bruce Kohlwey, owner of Willow Creek, said he will be gearing up from four full-time employees to four crews of 3-4 people, working both sides of the railroad tracks.  Operations will last from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The project is scheduled to last six weeks, although weather and the availability of Union Pacific linemen may change that timeline.

"This is about creating jobs, not just for the short term, but for the longer term," Kohlwey said prior to approval. "All my employees live in the county. So if it takes more time, that's OK with me."

Winter Park Town Manager Drew Nelson reminded Kohlwey that the terms of the contract specifically dictate that the project be completed in four, 10-hour days per week over a six-week period, although he allowed that Willow Creek's extremely low bid provides some wiggle room in the funding.

Kohlwey's crews will be using tree shears, grapple skidders, skidsteers, delimbers and log trucks with self-loaders. Difficult to access areas south of Beaver Village will require a lop-and-scatter technique for the slash. Officials from the U.S. Forest Service have expressed concern that slash not be left within 50 feet of the railway due to fire hazards.

Nelson said that Union Pacific has offered to donate the flagmen's time.

"What an awesome gesture that is on their part," Nelson said.

While the clearcut is bound to increase engine noise from the train throughout town, Nelson added that the most important element of the project is eliminating dangerous dead trees and providing a firebreak through town.

Work to create a quite zone at the Vasquez railroad crossing is anticipated to begin this fall, Nelson said. The King's Crossing quite zone is pending funding and further word on plans from Clark Lipscomb to build an underpass there.

The project is being funded through a $160,000 grant from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The town received five bids, ranging from $100,000 to $270,000.  Willow Creek had the low bid at $10 per tree. The next lowest bid was $35 per tree.

The contractor will be removing everything within 50 feet of the rail line and anything dead or larger than four inches within 100 feet of the rail line. The bid guarantees a maximum price. If the tree count turns out to be less than 10,000, the contractor will credit the town. If the tree count turns out to be more than 10,000, the contractor will donate the remainder to the town.

Healthy stands of aspen, fir and spruce will be left standing.

The remainder of the funding will help pay town crews and possibly a few contractors to haul slash from the site to the town's curtain burner and for the town's crews to operate the curtain burner this summer. Willow Creek will keep the logs and will be responsible for removing them.

Bruce Kohlwey, owner of Willow Creek, said he will be gearing up from four full-time employees to four crews of 3-4 people, working both sides of the railroad tracks.  Operations will last from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The project is scheduled to last six weeks, although weather and the availability of Union Pacific linemen may change that timeline.

"This is about creating jobs, not just for the short term, but for the longer term," Kohlwey said prior to approval. "All my employees live in the county. So if it takes more time, that's OK with me."

Winter Park Town Manager Drew Nelson reminded Kohlwey that the terms of the contract specifically dictate that the project be completed in four, 10-hour days per week over a six-week period, although he allowed that Willow Creek's extremely low bid provides some wiggle room in the funding.

Kohlwey's crews will be using tree shears, grapple skidders, skidsteers, delimbers and log trucks with self-loaders. Difficult to access areas south of Beaver Village will require a lop-and-scatter technique for the slash. Officials from the U.S. Forest Service have expressed concern that slash not be left within 50 feet of the railway due to fire hazards.

Nelson said that Union Pacific has offered to donate the flagmen's time.

"What an awesome gesture that is on their part," Nelson said.

While the clearcut is bound to increase engine noise from the train throughout town, Nelson added that the most important element of the project is eliminating dangerous dead trees and providing a firebreak through town.

Work to create a quite zone at the Vasquez railroad crossing is anticipated to begin this fall, Nelson said. The King's Crossing quite zone is pending funding and further word on plans from Clark Lipscomb to build an underpass there.

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