GUEST COMMENTARY | Ouray Residents Urged to Protect Healthy Trees, Destroy Dead Ones

08/23/14 | By | 89 More

Ouray area citizens continue to be concerned about the dying fir trees. Everywhere you look, you see brown trees interspersed with the green trees we pray won’t be brown next year. Work has continued by several concerned residents to not only research how to save the currently healthy trees but to get rid of the dead ones that are such a fire danger to Ouray and the surrounding area.

An inventory of areas that are at the greatest risk is being undertaken. Companies that do either logging and/or firewood cutting have surveyed the area and have been asked for their help. Many residents with dead trees on their properties have already contacted tree arborists directly to take care of removing the ones from their property.

These dead trees are not only unsightly and a significant fire hazard, they cause an extreme risk to any property they might fall on.  A dead tree is very unstable and can fall easily with a big gust of wind. Many of these dead trees are old-growth trees and are quite tall and unbalanced. Consider the cost of recovering from a tree that has fallen on your beautiful home or car to the significantly lower cost of removing a dead tree nearby.

Out-of-town owners of empty lots that have dead trees which could be a danger if they fell on nearby structures will be contacted by mail and asked to consider the removal of these trees.

Several companies have indicated an interest in servicing residents in the area and they are listed below.

  • All About Trees, Justin Perkins – 970/589-0821

This is a logging company in Grand Junction that is providing a volume discount if they are able to do multiple properties per visit. They will be in the Ouray area beginning around September 7th and have already contracted with several property owners to remove trees. They will remove trees that are both near structures and on empty lots.

  • Back Country Vegetation Management, Gary Rushing – 970/327-4179

This is a company out of Redvale that cuts trees primarily for firewood. They are currently booked through the end of the year but will be available after that. They specialize in cutting trees that are not close to structures and have already contracted some jobs in Ouray.

  • Telluride Arborist Services, Tyler Schultz – 970/406-0228

This is a specialty tree removal company that specializes in more hazardous tree situations.

  • Alpine Arborist, Chris Chaput – 970/596-3527

Chris has already been providing tree service in the Ouray area and specializes in normal tree removal conditions to more hazardous tree situations.

Many people in the Ouray area want to remove their dead trees themselves but are concerned about what to do with the slash and debris that results. And, how do you know whether or not you are disturbing and spreading the beetles to other healthy trees. Based on research, by the time you see signs of a tree dying, the miserable little beetles have long gone to destroy another beautiful tree.

There are two alternatives to eliminating all of the slash and debris that will result from this massive cleanup. Chipping and shredding has been a long-used option. This method, however, would generate and leave a tremendous amount of mulch that would have to be eliminated. A power plant in Gypsum has indicated they would take it off of our hands but we would have to get it there.  The remaining mulch is also highly flammable and would not completely eliminate our problem of fire protection.

The second alternative is to use an EPA-approved Refractory-Lined Firebox that has been developed for the agricultural and forest industries. This unique air curtain incinerator can be rented, along with an operator, to completely eliminate the slash and debris at an extremely faster rate than chipping and shredding. It was designed for high temperature burning of forest slash and is the cleanest alternative of the two for our purposes.

The current plan is to have a central location north of Ouray (undetermined at this date) where residents can take limbs and slash cut from downed trees throughout September and early October.  This EPA- approved, refractory-lined air curtain incinerator will be brought in for several days in mid October to burn what has accumulated at that location.  Alan Staehle, Chairman of the Ouray Fire Protection District, has indicated that they may be able to help with the costs of whatever alternative we have chosen.

Not only do we need to remove the hazardous dead trees in Ouray, residents need to continue to be diligent about protecting the ones on their properties that have not already succumbed to this insidious beetle. Make sure that the trees on your property get enough water to stay healthy and able to repel an attack. Also, for methods you can use to ward off the beetles for specific trees, go online to Ouray’s website,, and scroll down the left column to “Community Topics”. Go to “Tree Health Resources” for descriptions of how you can protect the fir and spruce trees you still have.

If you are thinking about diversifying the types of trees on your property, consider planting less flammable trees such as narrow-leaf cottonwood and aspen. The Ouray Beautification Committee is considering whether or not to make trees available to residents and the interest level will determine whether or not it would be a worthwhile project. Call Gail Jossi at 970/318-1424 if you are interested.

This is an extremely important issue to protect Ouray from this hazardous situation. Several people (both visitors and local property owners) have already contributed money to help pay for the protection of our trees. If you wish to help defray the expense of this tree removal effort please send a check payable to the Ouray Beautification Committee and mark it clearly for tree removal. You can drop it off at City Hall or send it to PO Box 468, Ouray, CO 81427.

Don’t wait until all of our trees are gone!

Please watch for future notices in the newspaper and at the Ouray Post Office of other tree removal activities and where to take your slash.

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