Friday, October 30, 2015

Backcountry skiers suspected in loss of 1,000-plus trees near Ski Santa Fe

Renegade backcountry skiers set on blazing their own trail are suspected of illegally chopping down 1,000 trees or more within the Santa Fe National Forest not far from Ski Santa Fe. The culprits may be passionate about their sport and love the exhilaration of freely weaving through the trees on fresh powder, but they are criminals, says Mike Gardiner, the forest’s assistant special agent in charge of law enforcement. Not only did they break human laws, but also they interfered with the laws of nature. “There are a lot of things to consider with something like this. The felling of green trees, which are normally seed trees, that’s not good for the forest,” he began. “There’s erosion down into the watershed, the impact on habitat – including avian habitat – and an increased fire risk when you unnecessarily add to the fuel load on the forest floor.” Gardiner suspects the predators cut paths through the forest so they could partake in what’s called glade or tree skiing, a form of off-trail skiing through wooded areas. Part of the appeal is the isolation. Skiers have access to virgin snow and don’t have to watch for traffic from other skiers...more

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