After scrambling at the last minute to find native Christmas trees, Willow Farm in Hygiene began selling Colorado balsam firs and lodgepole pines on Monday.
“I am so relieved,” said Susan Nemcek, executive director of Willow Farm, a nonprofit that provides an array of homeopathic wellness services. Proceeds from the sale of Christmas trees benefit the farm.
After learning that private land in Larimer County they typically relied on for trees had been sold, Nemcek started looking for alternative sites. Most, she said, had been damaged in this summer’s wildfires.
“I called everywhere in Larimer County, and they had had a really hard time getting Christmas trees anywhere,” she said. “So many Christmas tree places had lost everything, and they were starting over.”
Last week, a member of Willow Farm’s board of directors OK’d the use of his land in unincorporated Larimer County, above Carter Lake.
On Sunday, crews cut down about 100 trees for Willow Farm, located northwest of North 75th Street and Hygiene Road. Trees will be sold daily during daylight hours through Dec. 23.
It’s not wildfires that concern Tony Smith, owner of Colorado Native Christmas Trees. The Gunnison resident runs a native Christmas tree lot southwest of 75th Street and Valmont Road in Boulder. The lot is open daily, usually starting at 8 a.m.
Most of Smith’s trees now come from private lands. That’s a change from about 20 years ago, when he was getting nearly all his trees from federally managed properties. This year, he estimated that 10 to 15 percent of his trees came from federal land. He blames stricter regulations for restricting access to federal lands.
“We used to follow loggers around and clean up their slash, and take the tops of big trees if we could or needed them,” said Smith, who has run the Christmas tree lot for 28 years. “And now the loggers are all gone.”
The U.S. Forest Service opens five main areas along the Front Range in Pike, Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests for Christmas tree cutting. Last year, the Forest Service issued more than 19,000 permits in those areas.
“One of the best things is it gets people out there and helping to manage their own public lands,” said Jane Leche, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.
Neither drought conditions nor fire disrupted Christmas tree cutting areas along the Front Range this year, Leche said.
Each ranger district determines its own cutting dates, but core cutting dates range from Dec. 1 to 9. Permits are $10. Go to fs.usda.gov/main/r2/home for more information.
The sole place to cut down Christmas trees in the Forest Service’s Boulder and Clear Creek Ranger districts is the Pickle Gulch Group Campground north of Blackhawk. All 500 permits for that area have already been sold, said Kevin Zimlinghaus, implementation silviculturist with the districts.
Currently, no program exists to allow Christmas tree cutting on U.S. Forest Service lands in Boulder County. Zimlinghaus said he is working on establishing such a program, maybe by 2013.
“We have a lot of hoops we have to go through to do it,” he said. The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.