GRAND NORDIC CORNER 10 November 2016
By Diana Lynn Rau

When summer biking and hiking season ends, it’s time to set the final stage for winter activities. These days it’s winter fat biking, hiking or snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Nordic Centers with groomed trails pray for enough snow early to get started on grooming. But before that happens, they must clear and even mow their trails. They try to finish construction on new trails or facilities in a timely fashion.

On our public trails through Grand County, Headwaters Trails Alliance with the aid of volunteers works hard all summer to help local government agencies keep up with trail clearing and other maintenance as well as new construction. The funding provided by the recently passed Issue 1A will help that work tremendously and I congratulate our country voters for finally providing a regular funding source for maintenance of our rivers, trails, and open space. You will see a big difference sooner than you think.

The Fraser to Granby Trail between Tabernash and Tim’s Tunnel at the YMCA entrance has gotten a lot of needed maintenance this year. The YMCA meadow received a facelift with new logs to line the trail to keep the meadow from encroaching the trail and people from encroaching the delicate meadow. Farther up the trail toward Cty Road 5, the piles of slash accumulated over more than ten years are slowly disappearing due to efforts by trail adopters Diana Lynn and Charlie Rau. The same is happening down along the tree driveways above Cty Rd 86. Slash this old is difficult to chip and is much better burned.

We are coordinating neighbors and volunteers with community service hours to burn slash in a new type of heavy duty metal container approved by GC Dept of Natural Resources. The container has sides at least 2 ft tall to prevent spread of either flames or sparks and is barely larger than the size of a normal campfire. Because of the open bottom, air is drawn in from below to almost completely combust the wood put inside the enclosure, unlike burn barrels which are no longer legal. Very little remains after the ashes cook down. With the surrounding area raked clean of other combustibles, rakes and shovels on hand, containers of water, and the ability to keep the flame low, the burn ring works extremely well and can be used safely year-round.

The removal of these trees and slash enhances the beauty and safety of our trails. The dead trese left behind by the beetle infestation at the turn of the century are ugly eye-sores in our beautiful forests. Once the needles have dropped, the trunks will rot out and fall over or be blown over by our many windstorms in the next 10-20 years. That is a very dangerous and unpredictable time. We have chosen to work with the various landowners and be proactive in removal of these hazards. Hundreds of trees have been taken down in this section of trail alone. Many of the communities along the trail have also won Fire-Wise awards after encouraging their landowners to also remove their hazards. And we don’t have to worry about trees falling on trail users or blocking the trail itself.

It is now the open burn season in Grand County. Like the volunteers on the Fraser to Granby, please be safe when you remove your dead trees and slash. Be prepared with rakes and shovels, water, and your constant attention until there is no longer danger of fire spreading. We all love our forests and want to keep them beautiful. For many, our forests are their livelihood. Check if it is a burn day or not. Call Grand County dispatch at 970-725-331 to report smoke or illegal burns. for permits and just information consult Be safe and fire-wise.