Steamboat Springs The new Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, Chad Stewart, paid a courtesy call to the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday and told them that interest in harvesting timber is picking up in this region.
For the first time in a number of years, there are competing bids for timber sales, Stewart told the commissioners.
Commissioner Doug Monger responded that a new saw mill in Saratoga, Wyo., just north of the Routt County border, likely is having a positive impact in that regard.
Stewart also expressed an eagerness to collaborate with the county on road issues.
Stewart replaces former District Ranger Jamie Kingsbury who left the office in Steamboat Springs in the first half of 2013 for a temporary assignment that led to her becoming the new deputy supervisor of the Coronado National Forest based in Tucson, Ariz.
Larry Sandoval, a spokesman for the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest, which includes the Hahn’s Peak Ranger District, said a series of interim replacements, referred to as “detailers” by the Forest Service, had been covering Kingsbury’s former duties here until Stewart was named to the post in late February.
Sandoval said Stewart spent six years from 2008 to 2014 at the Lincoln National Forest based in Alamagordo, N.M., and has an extensive background in fire suppression. His title there was timber and fire staff officer.
Stewart’s experience in New Mexico should translate well to the Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears area, which primarily overlays Routt and Moffat counties where the Forest Service has been actively removing lodgepole pine trees killed by a long-term insect infestation.
Much of the recent work has been to remove dead and dying trees from along popular Forest Roads, where they create a hazard and block the roadway when they are blown down in a storm.
The Lincoln National Forest has undergone significant timber stand thinning to reduce forest fire danger. From 2000 to 2010, more than 420,000 acres of forest was treated, including with thinning, prescribed burning and timber sales, according to the Lincoln National Forest Web page. That’s more than three times the acreage treated in the two decades from 1980 to 1999.
Stewart moved here with his wife, Amy, a native of Colorado Springs, and their two children.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1