W ork on the West Magnolia recreation area, near Nederland High School, is taking longer than expected, say U.S. Forest Service officials. The area will remain closed until all fuel reduction work is completed, according to a release.

The tree cutting and thinning project is 30 percent complete after three months of work, said forest service spokeswoman Elsha Kirby. Crews have completed fuel reduction work on 100 of nearly 300 total acres in the recreation area, which is popular with mountain bikers and other trail users in the summer and fall. Kirby said the project was expected to be complete sometime this month, but will probably be completed after snowmelt in 2013.

West Range Reclamation, the contractor working on the West Magnolia area, was delayed while assisting with containment of the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires early in the summer. Other variables such as weather, equipment and crew availability had an impact on the project's progress, Kirby said.

"Obviously saving homes and lives became a priority," Kirby said. "The crew was able to provide their equipment to help keep the fire from burning homes and injuring people."

Kirby said she has received several emails and phone calls each day asking when the West Magnolia work will be completed.

"I know folks want to get in there and play, it's just going to take a little bit longer before we're done," she said.


--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.