Town Leaders Seek to Curb Potential Fire Risk; Complaint-Driven Policy Underway
Bad tree D-day has arrived in Green Mountain Falls.
In record-breaking speed, and with absolutely no debate, the Green Mountain Falls’ trustees recently approved the second and final reading of a newly amended nuisance ordinance, that adds more teeth to the town’s campaign to rid the area of dying, falling, and diseased trees.
In fact, the new law could impact many local property owners, especially if they have diseased and dying trees that border their neighbors’ land or public areas.
Based on the recent trustees’ action, the new law went into effect early this week. It requires a property owner to remove any tree on their land that poses a fire hazard or that is falling down, dying or creating a problem for adjacent areas. It also makes reference to problem tree limbs.
But don’t expect the town’s tree police to come knocking on your door in the next few days. In a previous interview, Mayor Todd Dixon said the town wants to work with property owners in getting them to comply. He cited dead and dying trees as the town’s main initial focus. “We want to work with the property owners,” said Dixon. The mayor contended that some trees could take time to remove.
He said the town will adopt a complaint-driven policy. The mayor stated that dead and dying trees are easy to identify, while diseased trees often involve more complexity and may require assistance from such agencies as the Colorado State Forest Service to analyze the specific situation.
But at least now, the town has some enforcement teeth in dealing with a problem that officials see as adding to their already growing fire danger. The main fear lingering locally deals with when GMF will get hit by a major catastrophic fire, and what actions can occur to avoid or limit such a disaster.
In fact, due to the work of several area groups, Dixon and Fire Mitigation Committee Chairman David Douglas said the town has made major strides in ridding problem trees in key trail and public areas, with more grant money available. “That is impressive,” said the mayor, in describing the work around the Thomas trail. He believe the town and other areas in the Ute Pass have suffered from “100 years of incorrect forest management.”
In GMF’s case, the town just has way too many trees and vegetation to function as a healthy forest area. Recent fires have changed the mindset regarding tree vegetation.
Volunteers Lauded in Pool Bash; Major Park Rehab Proposed
Besides the issue of better tree management, the town last week held a celebration at the GMF pool to celebrate the work of volunteers and in completing one of the more successful seasons in the operations of the GMF pool facility.
According to Jesse Stroope, the chairman of the town’s parks, recreation and trails committee, the pool had a stellar attendance year, generating impressive numbers during every weekend. More than 70 people attended last week’s pool bash that also honored the accomplishments of GMF’s trail ambassador program.
Don Walker, a member of the parks and recreation committee, was praised for the work he did in renovating the facility. The pool was open for several days a week, and kicked off the season shortly after Memorial Day. It stayed open for several months. This year, the facility was open to families and individuals from outside the area, and adopted a more open approach than past years.
“I think the fact that we made it more available to the whole community really helped,” said Trustee Nick Donzello.
Stroope believes the facility had one of its more successful seasons in recent years. “We were very happy with the pool this year. It was a pilot program,” said Stroope, who is also involved with the Green Mountain Falls Historic Foundation, and many of the projects spearheaded by Chris Keesee, the main founder and pioneer of the Green Box Arts festival and group.
Previously, the town tried to get contractors to run the pool operation, a plan that just didn’t pan out.
The pool’s success could just be the beginning of a new look in this section of town, which already has been enhanced by an expanded trail network.
At the most recent trustees meeting, Stroope announced a gift to the town by the Kirkpatrick Family Foundation for a complete rehab of the pool park. The project will follow a series of community engagement meetings next year for developing an overall plan. At least eight meetings are planned to get community input.
A number of ideas have been thrown out, such as having a welcome center or sporting pickleball courts or additional sports amenities.
But to date, nothing has been finalized or discussed formally.
According to Stroope, the gift would have a timeline. He cited a ground-breaking of Sept. 2025.
The completion of the pool park rehab is slated for 2026, according to Stroope. “I love it,” said Dixon, when hearing of the potential gift to the town for enhancing its main park area.
Along with new park facilities, the accomplishments of the town’s trail ambassadors’ program was cited by elected leaders in a meeting earlier this month. According to Nancy Dixon, trail volunteers have greeted close to 4,000 hikers in the last few years. The ambassador program was started as a way to better acquaint visitors with the town’s trail system, and to help educate them and make sure they are equipped with the necessary tools to handle the terrain.
One of the big challenges for visitors is the lack of signage to access local trailways.