USFS 1

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Slide 2: 

The Arapaho & Roosevelt, Routt, and White River National Forests are experiencing a mountain pine beetle epidemic in their pine forests. So far, 2.5 million acres have been affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic in Northern Colorado and Southeastern Wyoming. Tree mortality in other, widespread species is occurring also, such as some spruce tree mortality from the spruce bark beetle, and significant loss of aspen trees due to sudden aspen decline.

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Hazard tree removal will lower the risk of radiant heat from wildfires damaging power lines and hazard trees falling across power lines, thereby reducing the threat of wildfire ignition. Removal of hazardous trees will protect the power lines, which will assure less service interruption for local customers and the national grid.

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There are around 800 miles of distribution and transmission lines on the three National Forests. About 400 miles run through lodgepole pine that has been or will likely be killed by the bark beetle.

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Around 40 miles of power lines that are located in roadless areas have dead and dying trees and there are 80 miles of lodgepole pine stands in roadless areas that have not yet been attacked.

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Although the power lines are located on National Forest system lands, they do extend into private lands located within the three Forests’ boundaries. This analysis does not include actions on those private lands.

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This project will provide a one time only opportunity for the power companies to remove potentially hazardous trees from the area surrounding their infrastructure.

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The importance of the project is that much of the power is utilized along the front range, however much of it is generated on the west slope and must be transferred over the divide. Disruptions in service for many users could result from direct interference through falling timber or also indirect interference in the form of smoke and heat released during wildfire events.

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Flammable Infrastructure

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Increased Heat from wildfire may cause lines exposed to fire /heat to fail. Though not all portions of the electrical infrastructure are flammable, all portions that interface directly with forests may fail as a result of the hazardous trees. Even metal portions of the infrastructure begin to weaken after being exposed to +200oF for more than 30 minutes. Lines would sag, warp, or bend, which requires repairs and possibly results in outages or overloads in other areas.

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Many power lines do not meet the minimum safe distance required by OSHA. Physically touching high voltage power lines is not required for lines to arc.

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Though tree heights may not interfere with power lines in their normal condition, at times throughout the year, especially when usage and air temperatures are high, lines can sag which places them within the area of falling debris from head/dying trees. This also places them closer to heat sources such as fire.

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Many power lines are locate in rugged topography. It is possible that trees may fall from uphill onto power lines.

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