The Pine Beetle has wreaked havoc on mountains in Colorado. The result is the clearing of infested trees at resorts such as Steamboat. Nearly 30 acres of dead lodgepole pines have been removed from areas along the Thunderhead liftline, Burgess Creek liftline, and the north facing slopes above Bashor. The dead trees are removed for the safety of the guests, and those enjoying the slopes.
The clearing of the trees doesn't change the amount of skiable acreage at Steamboat, and the number of trails stays at 165.
"In future years, this opportunity may lead to the creation of some beginner terrain near the base of the mountain as we continue the mitigation process," says the resort's Mike Lane.
Skiers and riders this winter will definitely notice a difference, similar to how the Rough Rider basin area was cleared last summer. However Lane adds that there will still be plenty of trees. "Steamboat has a diverse forest with aspen, Douglas fir, sub alpine fir, and spruce covering the mountain."
There are nearly 3,000 acres that make up the Steamboat Ski Area, but only about 250 acres have been affected by the pine beetle epidemic in pockets of lodgepole pine trees. The project is expected to continue through late fall and into early winter. The community was also awarded a $1 million federal stimulus grant to remove the beetle-kill trees.
"The forest is a growing, changing environment and we'll be focused on managing the land in the best way possible. This is our #1 nature resource and we want to make sure the public is skiing/riding here for many years to come," Lane says.