Have you heard the helicopter zooming around Telluride? Helicopter Logging Operations have been taking place in the Lift 9 area for the last couple of weeks. But why is this important and what good is it doing for our corner of the San Juan Mountains?
Part 1 – Why?
In 2015, TSG and forest biologists came up with a Vegetation Management Plan for the ski area where biologists went out and took inventory of trees across the ski mountain. This was done so that we could come up with a prescription of how to make our forest more resilient. As trees get over crowded and eventually die and fall to the earth, the wood becomes susceptible to threats like Bark Beatles, Spruce Budworms and forest fires. As well as being more prone to disease, these dead trees obstruct otherwise skiable glades. The strategy to begin the logging operations came from a goal to promote forest health as well as better skiing at Telluride Ski Resort.
Spiral Stairs Trees after being gladed:
Part 2 – How?
Logging by helicopter was chosen over another logging method called "skidding" because of its lesser impact on forest health. Skidding is a logging maneuver that includes yarding systems that are cables strung down the mountain to become a pulley system to take the trees out. This maneuver rips up ground vegetation. On the contrary, helicopter logging is very surgical and precise; the helicopter hovers over the pile of trees that need to be removed and then carries them away to the loading site.
Once these undesirable trees are removed, it makes for a healthy environment for trees and vegetation to thrive.
Satisfaction Trees after being gladed:
Part 3 – What's the bottom line?
In addition to an increasingly healthy forest environment, TSG will gain about 50 acres of expanded gladed terrain in the Lift 9 area.
“We were strategic in selecting areas for forest health and fire mitigation practices that would also enhance the skiing experience. By removing trees with helicopters in the Lift 9 pod, we are adding close to 50 acres of improved tree skiing. Because this terrain has a north facing exposure, it will ski great with natural snow. We’re really thrilled to expand the skiing opportunities in this very special part of the ski area.” Jeff Proteau, VP of Mountain Operations
See the map below for the areas (in green) that will be gladed to skiable tree terrain for the 2019-2020 ski season.
(The top of Lift 9 is at the bottom of the picture).
If you're looking to book your trip to Telluride, use our trip planning page as well as event calendar for everything that's going on during your stay. We look forward to seeing you this winter! Renew your pass online here.