By Matt Stensland
Steamboat Springs — A helicopter is making quick work of removing hundreds of beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees from Steamboat Ski Area.
The logging is taking place in a 40-acre area in the Burgess Creek drainage between the Why Not and Creekside trails.
Last week, crews were in the area felling the trees. The helicopter operated by R&R Aviation began plucking the trees from the hillsides Tuesday and flying them to the slope maintenance building near the bottom of the Thunderhead Express lift. From there, the trees will be sorted and hauled away. The helicopter operations are expected to take about a week.
Trails in the logging area have been closed and are marked as such with signs. Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane reminded people to stay away from the impacted areas. Closed trails include Why Not, Tenderfoot, Rawhide and Creekside.
A helicopter is being used because the terrain is steep and hard to access with traditional logging trucks and skidders. The land also is less impacted when a helicopter is used to move the logs.
The logging will thin out an area that is within the permitted boundary of the ski area and will make it more possible to take a right through the thinned-out trees off the Vagabond trail and down to BC Ski Way.
“This will open some terrain that’s been hard to enjoy, and I think it will make for some good skiing,” Lane said.
Logging operations have been taking place at the ski area throughout the past several years, and Lane said there is a little more to do next summer in the woods near the lower part of the Storm Peak Express lift.
Scholarship Day is Nov. 21, and proceeds from lift ticket sales will benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Season pass holders can start using their passes at the ski area Nov. 22.