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Logging project adjusted to reduce truck traffic into Dolores and expand trail buffer

A timber harvest program is planned to thin forests to reduce potential for large wildfires, and improve forest resiliency to drought and insect infestation. (Courtesy San Juan National Forest)
A portion of truck routes will directed away from town; trails get larger buffer zone

After an objection period, changes were made to a logging plan on the San Juan National Forest to protect Boggy Draw trails and redirect a portion of truck traffic away from the town of Dolores.

The Dolores Town Board filed objections to the original Salter Vegetation Management logging project, citing concerns of increased logging truck traffic into Dolores from Dunlap Hill on County Road 31 and 11th Street.

After negotiations, the U.S. Forest Service agreed that timber trucks originating from the Salter and Plateau treatment areas will be required to utilize the western transportation route via Bradfield Bridge, and will not travel through town.

Language for the western route was changed from “preferred” to “required.”

The change will amount to about 25% of the overall Salter logging and forest health operation, the Forest Service said.

Aug 4, 2021
Dolores objects to increase in logging traffic into town

The Forest Service also agreed to notify timber operators about concerns about truck speed and noise and to reinforce that traffic codes require proper mufflers.

Timber contractors also will be informed that the town, to reduce disruptions for residents at night, will not allow commercial truck traffic on 11th Street from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., truckers would have to avoid Dunlap Hill on Road 31 into 11th Street in town.

The Southwest Colorado Cycling Association also filed objections to the logging project about its impacts to trails in the Boggy Draw area, officials said.

The Forest Service has agreed to increase the buffer zone between logging activity and trails to 50 feet. The buffer previously was 9 feet.

Efforts to improve forest health, including commercial thinning, also will take place in the Boggy Draw area, but not until 2028.

During a recent demonstration, town officials arranged to have a loaded truck drive down Road 31 into town, said Dolores Manager Ken Charles.

The test drive concluded that if the truck began using the engine break early in its descent, there was no significant noise.

The county installed additional signs on Road 31, including warnings about a 7% grade and curvy road, a 25 mph speed limit, and a 15 mph zone when approaching town and 11th Street.

Accepting the Forest Service concessions, the town withdrew its objections to the logging plan. Town and forest officials agreed to partner on project communication and oversight.

“We support the forest health benefits of the project, and worked with the Forest Service to address community concerns regarding the increased traffic,” Charles said.

Dolores can expect an increase in logging trucks on County Road 31 and 11th Street in coming years. (Journal file)

The Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest has given preliminary approval for the Salter Vegetation Management forest treatment project covering 22,346 acres north of Dolores.

The project will involve efforts to improve forest health, including commercial timber logging of ponderosa pine over the next 10 years. The area to be logged will utilize thinning strategies, and not take old-growth trees.

Among the the project aims are to improve stand diversity, reduce overcrowding, create meadows, improve drought resiliency, reduce the threat of beetle infestation, and lessen the potential for catastrophic wildfires.

Proposed treatment areas are in the vicinity of Salter Y, Plateau Creek, Carlyle Point, Turkey Knoll and Boggy Draw. Project documents are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57671