Jefferson County, Colorado Logging Old-Growth Trees for Phony “Wildfire Risk Reduction”

Right now Jefferson County Open Space is cutting hundreds of fire-resistant mature and old growth trees up to 129 years of age and 2.5 feet in diameter at Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen off Route 74, under the phony guise of “wildfire risk reduction.”

A trailhead sign claims the county is “removing new growth” to “keep the forest and meadows healthy and reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfire.” Yet studies—including one from Colorado’s Four Mile Canyon Fire in 2012 and the Hayman Fire in 2002—show that logging forests not only won’t prevent large wildfires, but cutting even small trees can make fires burn more severely by drying and heating the forest and spreading flames into communities by opening it to wind. [1][2]

Logging large fire-resistant trees—in the case of Elk Meadow Park, more than a century old, up to 2.5 feet in diameter—will only increase the risk of wildfire threat to homes and lives, including the adjacent Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen K-8 Kindergarten Elementary Middle School.

Instead, the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory found that making homes “Firewise”—tending an area up to 100 feet around structures, installing metal roofs, etc.—is what protects property and lives, with up to 95 percent of treated structures withstanding even the largest fires. [3]

Cutting carbon-storing mature and old-growth trees even goes against what Jefferson County Open Space has been telling the public it’s doing in its own “Forest Health Plan.” The plan claims to “promote larger diameter and fire-resistant trees such as ponderosa pine,” while stating that mature trees are “underrepresented and, in most cases, should be favored for retention.” [4]

Jefferson County Open Space claims it may be “feasible” to log up to 25,270 acres of forests—39.5 square miles—across 32 public parks and hiking trails, at taxpayer expense. Flying J Ranch Park’s popular hiking trails have already been devastated by 150 acres of clearcuts, with more logging at Meyer Ranch Park, and every single other county park on the chopping block.

JeffCo has held no public hearings and given no notice for any of these projects, so citizens have no opportunity for input. County Commissioners Lesley Dahlkemper, Tracy Kraft-Tharp, and Andy Kerr refuse to respond to a citizen petition signed by over 500 people asking for a moratorium on the logging until independent scientists and the public can be engaged in the process, making fire danger worse while destroying the local ecology and exacerbating climate change. [5]

“Not only does logging our public forests under the guise of ‘wildfire fuel reduction’ devastate the ecology, not only does it divert attention and funding away from protecting homes with truly effective Firewise measures, but studies show that opening, drying, and heating the landscape by cutting trees can make wildfires worse,” says Josh Schlossberg, Evergreen, Colorado-based steering committee member of Eco-Integrity Alliance. “Now, cutting fire-resistant old-growth trees in Elk Meadow Park proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that none of this is about protecting communities from wildfire, and all about agency and industry propaganda to get out the cut.”






Published by eco-integrityalliance

The mission of the Eco-Integrity Alliance is to unite the “alternative” environmental movement under a big tent of ecological integrity through common campaigns of mutual support.

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