From Rustic to Cameron Peak, the fire destroyed nearly 40 miles along the Poudre River and surrounding mountains, changing the area for a generation.
Fort Collins Coloradoan
The Cameron Peak Fire destroyed 224 homes and burned nearly 209,000 acres. And now, despite the largest wildfire in state history no longer being a threat, the Grinch keeps on taking.
For the first time in more than 30 years, the Canyon Lakes Ranger District announced the fire has forced the cancellation of its popular Christmas tree cutting program at Swamp Creek on the Roosevelt National Forest south of Red Feather Lakes this year.
The fire’s impact also will not allow cutting on the district’s alternate cutting location in the Pingree Park area.
The program generally runs for a couple weeks in early December.
“It broke a lot of hearts because this is one of the things the district loves and that people love to do,” forest spokesperson Reghan Cloudman said. “It was a really hard decision and one that we did not make lightly.”
Cloudman said the fire burned a wide area, but not all, of the cutting area. The fire also impacted roads in the cutting area and left many hazardous burned trees, making the area unsafe for the public.
Though the fire is 92% contained, she said there are also still fire suppression efforts on hot spots still smoldering despite the snow. Also, repair work is ongoing on fire lines within and around the 350-mile perimeter of the fire.
“All the work of managing the fire didn’t go away the moment we got snow,” she said.
Cloudman said the cutting program results in 3,000 to 4,000 trees being cut annually, which provides some fire mitigation help.
Misery and memories: Cameron Peak Fire’s lasting impressions
Until more resource damage assessment can be done, Cloudman said the district is unsure if the site will be reopen next cutting season. The district will look at other locations, Cloudman, said, but the site must have an adequate road system to handle the large volume of people and there must be an abundance of small enough trees to cut.
For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/xmastrees.
Alternative cutting locations
The East Troublesome and Williams Fork fires impacted the Arapaho National Forest, which will result in the Sulphur District of the forest in Grand County offering reduced cutting areas.
The Christmas tree cutting areas in the Elk Creek area near Winter Park and Fraser will open. Cloudman said the Canyon Lakes District has had people inquire about cutting there. She said it takes about three hours to drive to the site from Fort Collins.
The area is open Nov. 23 through Jan. 6. Permits are $20 per tree with a 5-tree limit. Permits must be purchased prior to arriving at a cutting area either online at www.recreation.gov/tree-permits/arp or through local vendors. A list of vendor locations and maps showing suggested tree cutting areas will be posted by Nov. 23 at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/xmastrees.
The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in southern Wyoming is offering Christmas tree cutting, but some areas will be closed due to the Mullen Fire.
Permits are $10 and the permits are good now through January. For more information, including closures, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/mbr. Then scroll down to the Recent News section.
Those cutting trees are asked to follow all COVID-19 protocols to keep people safe.
Still alive: Cameron Peak Fire not out yet
Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
Read or Share this story: https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2020/11/18/cameron-peak-fire-cancels-popular-christmas-tree-cutting-program/6338954002/