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Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp (RMMC) called on Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and camp volunteers to remove dead trees because of the spruce beetle infestation. Pike National Forest this January, called on contractors to do the same with the goal to help ensure the safety of people who come to enjoy this unique part of God’s creation.

Beginning January 17, the road to camp was closed to the public. Large equipment and trucks began to cut, process and haul away the trees killed by spruce beetle on the National Forest side of the property boundaries. Trees were cut along the 2.5 mile stretch of road between camp and the Crags campground. An additional group of trees was cut just below the camp pond and entrance to RMMC.

All the work is being done on a large scale given the large quantity of trees to be cut. One machine grabs, cuts, and fells the tree to the ground. Another machine hauls the tree down the road to a processing location. The next machine picks up the tree and sends it through rotating rollers which removes the branches as the tree is pulled through. Then slice! The log is cut to length. Another machine picks up the stripped log and places it on a pile. The machines pick up and move around the logs much like a human hand would move around a stack of pencils. The rest of the tree is stripped of its branches until another length of log is cut. Finally, when the semi-truck arrives, it is loaded and down the road the logs go!

With the conclusion of tree cutting last week, the stacks of logs will continue to be hauled away (estimate of forty truck loads). With all the logs removed (possibly by the end of February), the road to camp will again reopen.

Additionally, the large pile of slash (cut off branches and tree tops) will be made into smaller piles for a controlled burn in the future.

The visual difference of how machines cut trees in the National Forest and how MDS and camp volunteers cut trees at camp is significant. Volunteers didn’t need an 18 foot wide path to get to a tree that needed to be cut. So while you’ll easily notice the swath of trees cut in the National Forest, you will have to look harder to notice the trees cut at RMMC because of the minimal impact and care of MDS and camp volunteers.

Written by Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp


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