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2014

CSFS Provides Christmas Trees for State Capitol, CSU

December 4, 2014

The 2014 State Capitol Holiday Tree is themed the “Gold Star Tree of Honor” and pays tribute to the more than 350 Colorado military service members lost in the global war on terror since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families.

2014 State Capitol Holiday Tree
2014 State Capitol Holiday Tree

Gov. John Hickenlooper lit the Capitol tree today in a ceremony in the Capitol’s North Foyer. The Colorado State Forest Service Fort Collins District provided the tree for the fourth year in a row.

Gold Star Families are the survivors of service members who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations.

“Having recognition from the larger community for these families, at this time of year, is very important,” said Janelle Darnell, chief of protocol for the Office of The Adjutant General, Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Colorado National Guard soldiers and their families decorated the 27-foot subalpine fir. Boughs trimmed off the tree will be used by the DMVA to craft wreaths for National Guard personnel deployed throughout the world.

Each year, CSFS foresters selectively cut the Capitol Holiday Tree and smaller trees destined for the Colorado State University campus as part of ongoing management efforts to improve forest health on State Trust Land in northern Larimer County.

Colorado State Forest Service Accepting Seedling Tree Applications

November 17, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service is now accepting applications on a first-come, first-serve basis for more than 40 varieties of low-cost seedling trees and shrubs grown at its Fort Collins nursery. Seedlings ordered now will be distributed statewide next spring.

Colorado State Forest Service Nursery, Fort Collins, Colo
Colorado State Forest Service Nursery, Fort Collins, Colo

Coloradans who are interested in conservation goals such as creating natural windbreaks, improving wildlife habitat or reforesting properties impacted by wildfire or floods are eligible to purchase the low-cost seedlings.

CSFS Nursery Manager Josh Stolz says Colorado-grown species are adaptable, hardy and ideal for a variety of conservation uses.

“We’re very excited about our inventory options this year,” Stolz said. “We have new species, more size options and good quantities to accommodate virtually any conservation need.”

The CSFS seedling tree program is designed to encourage Colorado landowners to plant seedling trees and shrubs for conservation purposes. Through a cooperative effort with Colorado State University Extension offices and county conservation districts throughout the state, approximately 5,000 Coloradans receive CSFS seedling trees each year.

Seedling trees have many uses and benefits, including:

  • Wind/snow control to protect roadways and livestock
  • Enhanced wildlife habitat and reforestation
  • Increased property values
  • Energy conservation through reduced utility bills
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Reduced soil erosion

To purchase seedling trees from the CSFS, landowners must agree to use them for conservation purposes only. There is no minimum acreage requirement.

For more information about the CSFS seedling tree program, contact a local CSFS district or field office or call the CSFS Nursery at (970) 491-8429.

Colorado Becomes Third State to Achieve 100 Firewise Communities

November 3, 2014

More than 100 Colorado communities have now earned Firewise Communities/USA® recognition – an accomplishment achieved by only three states – for taking steps to reduce their wildfire risk.

Glenwood Highlands and the Canyon Creek Homeowners Association (both in Garfield County) recently earned Firewise Communities/USA® recognition. Photo: B. Jackson
Glenwood Highlands and the Canyon Creek Homeowners Association (both in Garfield County) recently earned Firewise Communities/USA® recognition. Photo: B. Jackson

“Reaching the one hundred community benchmark is a major accomplishment,” said Cathy Prudhomme, the community outreach program manager for the National Fire Protection Association’s Wildland Fire Operations Division. “Until now, only two of the program’s 41 participating states have achieved that level of participation.”

The national Firewise Communities/USA recognition program is administered by the NFPA and provides a template for wildfire safety at the neighborhood level. The Colorado State Forest Service serves as the liaison between Colorado communities and the NFPA to help private landowners with wildfire mitigation and education efforts.

Under the program, communities develop an action plan that guides residential risk-reduction activities, while engaging and encouraging neighbors to become active participants in building a safer place to live.

To become a recognized Firewise Community/USA, communities must:

  • Obtain a wildfire risk assessment from the state forestry agency or a local fire department.
  • Form a board or committee, and create an action plan based on the assessment.
  • Conduct a “Firewise Day” event at least once every year.
  • Invest a minimum of $2 per capita in local Firewise actions annually.

“Becoming a Firewise Community/USA helps communities learn about wildfire risks while working with local firefighters, forestry professionals and national researchers to reduce those risks,” said Courtney Peterson, wildfire mitigation education coordinator for the CSFS. “Neighbors build stronger bonds with each other when they rally toward a common cause for the good of the neighborhood.”

In just the past three weeks, three Colorado communities received the Firewise Communities/USA designation for the first time, bringing the total of such communities in the state to 101. For more information about the Firewise Communities/USA recognition program or to view a full list of Firewise communities, go to www.firewise.org.

To learn more about wildfire mitigation in Colorado, visit the CSFS Wildfire Mitigation web page.

Yellowing Pine Needles Normal in Autumn

September 22, 2014

Although thousands of evergreen trees throughout Colorado are beginning to display dying yellow, red or brown needles, most are simply going through a natural shedding process – and are not infested by bark beetles or tree disease.

Seasonal discoloration and loss of pine needles on a ponderosa pine.
Seasonal discoloration and loss of pine needles on a ponderosa pine.

This needle cast, or shedding, usually starts in late summer and early fall with the change in seasons and weather. Needles will continue to be shed throughout the fall and into winter, usually aided by frosts and wind events.

Every autumn, many Colorado conifer tree species shed some of their older, interior needles as part of an annual growth cycle. Needles on the lower portion of the crowns or closest to the trunk are most commonly shed, but trees stressed due to drought or root damage may shed more needles to keep the tree in balance with its root system.

Soon-to-be shed needles typically turn yellow first, then a reddish-brown color before dropping off weeks to months later; very small branches with few needles on them also may die.

In Colorado, conifer species that commonly shed needles in the fall include ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir and Colorado blue spruce.

Evergreen trees that shed fall needles have a different appearance than trees infested by bark beetles. The needles on a beetle-infested tree typically change color throughout the entire tree, initially starting with an off shade of green and turning to reddish-orange by the following summer. In addition to changing needle color, bark beetle-infested trees will show other signs of attack, such as fine sawdust at the base of the tree.

The seasonal discoloration and loss of pine needles frequently is called “needle cast,” but the term also refers to an unrelated fungal disease of spruce and fir trees.

For more information about tree and forest health, contact your local CSFS district or field office.

Transporting Firewood Can Spread Tree-Killing Insects

August 27, 2014

Firewood is on the minds of many Coloradans, with some stocking up on cords for winter fuel while others plan on procuring a few armloads for hunting trips.

Emerald ash borer (larva shown here) is an invasive insect that was first detected in Colorado last fall.
Emerald ash borer (larva shown here) is an invasive insect that was first detected in Colorado last fall.

But because of the considerable impact emerald ash borer (EAB), native bark beetles and other insects can have on Colorado forests, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to be sure people are aware of the risks associated with transporting firewood.

“There are serious risks associated with moving firewood, from further spreading native insects like spruce beetle to introducing exotic tree pests into our community forests,” said Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager.

The transportation of firewood is a common cause for the accidental introduction of harmful tree insects and diseases to new areas. EAB, an invasive insect responsible for the death of millions of ash trees in 24 states and Canada, was detected in Colorado for the first time last fall. The insect’s arrival in the state, for now confirmed only in the City of Boulder, was most likely due to the human movement of raw ash wood. A quarantine is now in place in Boulder County and two small neighboring areas to try and prevent the human-assisted spread of EAB, because an estimated 15 percent or more of Colorado’s urban trees are ash.

Insects and diseases harmful to our native and urban forests, often hidden away under the bark, can hitch a ride on cut wood from both living and dead trees. Wood says besides EAB, pests of primary concern related to moving firewood include the gypsy moth and Asian longhorned beetle, which have not yet had a significant impact in Colorado, and thousand cankers disease, which has killed most of the black walnut trees in some urban Front Range communities and was recently detected in northeast Colorado.

The CSFS offers several tips to help protect trees and forests:

  • Burn firewood at the location where you buy or cut it. Leave behind any wood you don’t burn.
  • Don’t transport potentially infested or diseased wood across state or county lines. If you have questions about whether wood might contain insects or diseases of concern, contact a local CSFS office for information.
  • Never transport any regulated wood materials out of a quarantine area (in some cases, such as with the EAB quarantine in Colorado, this is illegal).
  • Ask firewood dealers questions about the origin of the logs, and always try to buy local. The best option is anything labeled with the Colorado Forest Products logo.
  • If buying firewood that has been declared free of pest concerns, be sure it has been debarked and is thoroughly dried or “cured” before transporting locally.
  • Learn to identify the symptoms of common pests in the type of wood you plan to burn.

For more information about insects and diseases that threaten Colorado trees, contact a local CSFS office or visit our Forest Insects & Diseases web page.

For more about the risks of moving firewood, go to www.dontmovefirewood.org.

CSFS Releases Spruce Beetle Publication

August 21, 2014

An agent of subalpine change, the spruce beetle is a native species in Colorado’s spruce forest ecosystem. Endemic populations are always present, and epidemics are a natural part of the changing forest.

The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado have been heavily infested with spruce beetle. Photo: R. Klatt
The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado have been heavily infested with spruce beetle. Photo: R. Klatt

There usually are long intervals between such events as insect and disease epidemics and wildfires, giving spruce forests time to regenerate. Prior to their occurrence, the potential impacts of these natural disturbances can be reduced through proactive forest management.

The spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) is responsible for the death of more spruce trees in North America than any other natural agent.

Spruce beetle populations range from Alaska and Newfoundland to as far south as Arizona and New Mexico. The subalpine Engelmann spruce is the primary host tree, but the beetles will infest any spruce tree species within their geographical range, including blue spruce. In Colorado, the beetles are most commonly observed in high-elevation spruce forests above 9,000 feet.

Read more in our August 2014 publication, Spruce Beetle Quick Guide (493 KB PDF).

Walnut Tree Disease Spreads to Northeastern Colorado

August 13, 2014

Thousand cankers disease, a relatively new disease to Colorado that is lethal to infested black walnut trees, has now arrived in the northeast plains.

Thousand cankers disease is caused by a fungus carried by the walnut twig beetle. Photo: W. Ciesla
Thousand cankers disease is caused by a fungus carried by the walnut twig beetle. Photo: W. Ciesla

The disease was confirmed in Fort Morgan through cooperative efforts of the Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado State University Extension, City of Fort Morgan and the CSU Plant Diagnostics Clinic, and likely arrived in the community through the movement of infested wood.

After being introduced to Colorado in recent years, thousand cankers disease has caused significant tree mortality in many of the state’s urban forests, primarily along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo.

Converse to emerald ash borer, another recently arrived Colorado tree pest that spread westward across the Great Plains via the transport of infested wood, thousand cankers disease has the potential to spread in the opposite direction, to the Eastern U.S. – potentially impacting large numbers of commercially valuable walnut trees.

“In the Midwestern states, black walnut trees have significant economic value,” said Boyd Lebeda, acting district forester for the CSFS Fort Morgan District. “So the spread of this disease could be damaging not only here, but to tree resources and related markets in other states.”

Thousand cankers disease is caused by a fungus carried by the walnut twig beetle. Once the fungus is introduced to a tree, it causes small dead areas in the bark called cankers. Trees are eventually killed by overwhelming attacks of walnut twig beetles and subsequent cankers that girdle branches. Currently, there are no effective methods for saving trees with the disease, and many states east of Colorado already have quarantines prohibiting the movement of walnut material.

The CSFS, CSU Extension and partner agencies have been in the process of monitoring the state’s black walnut trees for the past few years, travelling through communities in eastern Colorado to record tree locations and current conditions.

Landowners with black walnut trees in Morgan County and elsewhere in Colorado should inspect them regularly for symptoms including sparse foliage, leaf yellowing or wilting, branch dieback and excessive staining of the bark surface. Any suspect trees should be reported to the nearest CSFS or CSU Extension office.

Anyone who has a black walnut tree removed within the City of Fort Morgan can contact the city at (970) 542-6311 to determine the best way to dispose of the tree.

Everyone can help minimize the spread of this and other tree diseases, including emerald ash borer, by not transporting raw wood – including logs, firewood, lumber and wood chips – to new locations.

For more information about thousand cankers disease, please visit our publications section.

Colorado Receives $250,000 Grant to Promote Wood-Energy Facilities, Technologies

July 18, 2014

This week, the USDA announced that Colorado is the recipient of a quarter-million-dollar grant to promote the development of wood-to-energy projects in the state.

Under the grant, private, state and federal organizations will work together to stimulate the development of wood-energy projects in Colorado. Photo: D. Bihn
Under the grant, private, state and federal organizations will work together to stimulate the development of wood-energy projects in Colorado. Photo: D. Bihn

The grant will help foresters and researchers address forest health and wildfire concerns by accelerating the establishment of wood-energy facilities and technologies that use woody biomass.

The Colorado State Forest Service received the three-year, $250,000 grant from the USDA Forest Service, Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC) through a second round of funding from the national program.

“We look forward to the opportunity to increase the use of woody biomass in Colorado, which will help improve the health and resilience of our forests,” said Tim Reader, utilization and marketing forester for the CSFS-administered Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program (CoWood).

Under the grant, private, state and federal organizations will work together to stimulate the development of wood-energy projects in Colorado. The funding will help establish wood-energy facilities that obtain and utilize woody biomass from National Forest and adjacent lands and communities, through direct technical and financial assistance, education and outreach. Specific goals include strategically identifying and engaging new wood-energy candidate communities and facilities, providing technical workshops, and developing a new e-book application to help facilities become biomass-ready.

To promote wood-to-energy efforts, the CSFS is leading a team which includes representatives from the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Bihn Systems LLC, New West Business Development and USDA Forest Service Region 2.

More information about the Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program.

Tips for Watering Trees During Drought

July 1, 2014

Despite heavy rains over parts of Colorado in recent months, persistent drought conditions have parched the soil over much of the state, stressing even irrigated lawns and urban landscape trees.

Adequately watering your trees is the best way to ensure optimum growth and vigor during the summer months. Photo: Colorado Tree Coalition
Adequately watering your trees is the best way to ensure optimum growth and vigor during the summer months. Photo: Colorado Tree Coalition

During these periods of drought, homeowners should consider supplemental watering to keep their trees healthy.

“Adequately watering your trees is the best way to ensure optimum growth and vigor during the summer months,” said Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service. “Dry trees become susceptible to root and branch die-back and subsequent insect and disease problems.”

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor map, released last week, indicates that approximately 50 percent of Colorado is currently experiencing some form of drought – with some southern portions of the state under “severe” or worse drought classifications.

The CSFS offers the following tips to keep trees healthy during summer drought:

  • Water a wide area. Tree root systems, unlike carrots, may spread two to three times wider than the height of the tree, with most absorbing roots in the top foot of soil. Apply water to soak the entire area underneath the full span of a tree’s branches.
  • Water slowly. To ensure deep penetration, use a deep root fork (inserted 8 inches or less), soaker hose on low setting or soft spray wand to apply water slowly to the full area.
  • Keep the yard green. Trees located in irrigated lawns generally do not require additional water, as long as the area surrounding the tree receives adequate moisture. Conversely, a dry, yellow yard means the roots of any trees present are also dry.
  • Focus on non-irrigated trees. Trees that do not receive water from sprinkler systems or irrigation require additional water. Every week, apply 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree trunk diameter. Water newly planted trees even more frequently; larger trees, which have extensive root systems, can be watered less frequently.
  • Mulch. Mulch is an inexpensive solution to retain soil moisture and save water. Apply 4 inches of organic mulch onto bare soil within 2 to 3 feet from the base of the trunk (removing any grass first, if necessary). Do not allow the mulch to directly contact the trunk.

More information about watering, planting and the general care of trees is available in the Trees section of our website.

Also, please visit the Colorado Tree Coalition website to view a guide to tree watering in dry climates.

Black Forest Fire Anniversary Highlights Need for Mitigation Efforts to Protect Homes

June 9, 2014

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Black Forest Fire, the most destructive wildfire in state history in terms of property losses.

Reducing fuels in the wildland-urban interface is critical to protecting life and property. Photo: B. Cotton
Reducing fuels in the wildland-urban interface is critical to protecting life and property. Photo: B. Cotton

The Colorado State Forest Service wants to remind landowners to prepare for wildfires before they arrive. While there is no guarantee firefighters will be able to save any one home from a wildfire, the odds increase if landowners create defensible space, said Lisa Mason, the Fire Adapted Communities program manager for the CSFS.

Defensible space is the area around homes or other structures that has been modified to reduce fire hazard. Addressing defensible space not only reduces the risk of home loss, but also improves safety for residents if they have to evacuate and for emergency crews responding to a wildfire.

“Homeowners working together around adjacent homes and throughout communities will be even more effective at reducing wildfire risk,” Mason said.

The CSFS offers numerous resources and recommendations to help private landowners create defensible space, including:

  • Remove all flammable vegetation within at least 15 feet of any part of a home or other structure, including decks.
  • Thin standing trees within 100-200 feet of all structures.
  • Prune off tree branches to a height of at least 10 feet from the ground.
  • Keep grasses and weeds surrounding the home mowed to a height of less than six inches.
  • Stack firewood and locate propane tanks at least 30 feet from and uphill of structures.
  • Clear pine needles from gutters and trim overhanging branches.

CSFS online resources include free publications about defensible space, FireWise design and construction, Community Wildfire Protection Plans and the Firewise Communities/USA® program.

Please visit our site for comprehensive guidance on protecting homes and communities from wildfire or call your local CSFS district or field office.

School in the Woods/Edith Wolford Elementary Plant Seedlings in Black Forest

May 12, 2014

On May 15, School in the Woods students, parents and teachers will plant 400 trees at Black Forest State Land Section 16 in an effort to reforest areas burned by the 2013 Black Forest Fire.

Jon Wuerth, School in the Woods director, Shawna Crocker, Colorado PLT coordinator and Delene Hoffner, School in the Woods teacher, at the planting event.
Jon Wuerth, School in the Woods director, Shawna Crocker, Colorado PLT coordinator and Delene Hoffner, School in the Woods teacher, at the planting event.

Through an American Forest Foundation and National Project Learning Tree (PLT) grant, the Colorado State Forest Service was recently able to provide School in the Woods and Edith Wolford Elementary the free seedling trees for a community planting and reforestation project.

Twelve additional communities throughout the state also received free seedling trees from PLT for a wide range of educational planting projects.

“The opportunity to get free seedling trees through this program benefits both the community and the students,” said Jon Wuerth, director at School in the Woods. “The students were ecstatic about being able to participate in a planting project and continue to learn so much in the process.”

Colorado Project Learning Tree provides professional development for educators and uses the forest as a window on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and to help develop their ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues. For more information on PLT resources for teachers, go to www.coloradoplt.org.

Emerald Ash Borer: What Colorado Communities Need to Know

April 21, 2014

With the highly destructive emerald ash borer (EAB) now confirmed in Colorado, many homeowners have questions about their ash trees and the risks presented by the invasive tree insect.

A recognizable sign of EAB infestation is D-shaped exit holes on the bark of ash trees. Photo: J. Spokowsky, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
A recognizable sign of EAB infestation is D-shaped exit holes on the bark of ash trees. Photo: J. Spokowsky, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Late last year EAB was detected in the City of Boulder.

The insect is already responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in more than 20 states. It poses a serious threat to many of Colorado’s urban forests, where ash species comprise an estimated 15-20 percent of all trees.

To help homeowners and communities make decisions about dealing with the pest, the Colorado State Forest Service recently released a new Quick Guide about EAB in Colorado.

Current Recommendations for Colorado

  • Determine now if you have any ash trees. The first step to dealing with EAB is identifying susceptible host trees on the landscape, which include virtually any species and varieties of ash (genus Fraxinus). Ash trees have diamond-shaped bark ridges, compound leaves with 5 to 11 leaflets, and their leaflets, buds and branches grow directly opposite from one another.
  • Recognize signs of EAB infestation. Homeowners with ash trees should be on the lookout for signs of EAB infestation, which include: thinning of upper branches and twigs, loss of leaves, D-shaped 1/8-inch holes on the bark, vertical bark splitting or increased woodpecker activity. Any suspect trees should be reported to the Colorado Department of Agriculture at (888) 248-5535 or email CAPS.program@state.co.us.
  • Be aware of EAB imposters. Other insects like lilac/ash borer, ash bark beetle and flat-headed appletree borer may look like EAB or cause similar tree symptoms. For more information, see the new EAB Quick Guide on the CSFS website.
  • Know when treatments are (and aren’t) a good option. Homeowners have the option to apply chemical treatments this spring to help protect high-value trees, but treatments are not recommended more than 5 miles from a positive detection. Currently, the only confirmed in-state detection has been in the City of Boulder.
  • Realize that treatments are necessary to save impacted trees. All ash trees, regardless of species, size or age, can be infested by EAB. Infested trees will not survive without treatments, but treatments can be effective even in infested trees, if infestation is detected early enough.
  • Avoid planting ash trees in Colorado. Ash trees have been widely planted here, but due to the risk of EAB, future plantings are not recommended. However, this spring is a good time to consider planting diverse tree species where ash trees growing now may be lost in the future.
  • Prevent further spread of EAB. Don’t ever transport ash firewood, or any other untreated ash wood products, to other locations. Boulder County and small adjacent areas are now under a federal EAB quarantine, allowing for stiff fines for those who move untreated wood from the area.

For more information about EAB infestation, treatment options and ash tree identification, view the EAB Quick Guide online or pick up a free copy at the nearest CSFS district or field office.

For current information about EAB in Colorado, including the current quarantine, go to www.eabcolorado.com.

Event Offers Scouts Opportunity to Experience Forest Stewardship

April 16, 2014

On Saturday, April 19, Colorado State Forest Service volunteers joined CSU students, the Society of American Foresters and additional partnering agencies at the “Forestry Field Day” to teach Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts about many forestry topics.

Scouts learn about forest products from a CSFS volunteer at last year's Forestry Field Day.
Scouts learn about forest products from a CSFS volunteer at last year’s Forestry Field Day.

The annual event draws hundreds of scouts from across Colorado and Wyoming.

This is the first year that both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (ages 9 and up) were invited to participate in the field day held at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. More than 200 scouts and 30 volunteers participate in the event.

Scouts learned about proper forest management, tree and plant identification, Colorado wood products, forest insects and disease, and wildfire. They also observed trained sawyers from the CSU Forest Field Practices Class fell trees, skid logs with ATVs, and cut boards with a small portable sawmill.

Scouts had the opportunity to participate in a community service project.

For more information on how to volunteer at CSFS sponsored events like Forestry Field Day, visit the CSFS Volunteer Program web page.

CSFS Accepting Proposals to Protect Private Forestlands

April 10, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service is now accepting Forest Legacy Program proposals from Colorado landowners.

Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, Larimer County, Colorado
Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, Larimer County, Colorado

The program authorizes the USDA Forest Service or the CSFS to purchase permanent conservation easements on private forestlands to protect environmentally important areas and prevent those lands from being converted to non-forest uses.

The program provides an opportunity for private landowners to retain ownership and management of their land, while receiving compensation for unrealized development rights.

Forestlands that contain important scenic, cultural, recreation and water resources, including fish and wildlife habitat and other ecological values, and that support traditional forest uses, will receive priority.

Landowners who elect to participate in the program are required to follow a stewardship management plan approved by the CSFS. Activities consistent with the management plan, including timber harvesting, grazing, and recreation activities are permitted.

The Colorado State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee will evaluate proposals and recommend to the state forester those proposals that have sufficient merit to forward to the USDA Forest Service. Forwarded proposals will then compete at a regional level; those selected at the regional level will compete nationally for funding.

For additional information and to download the application, visit our Funding Assistance web page.

Completed proposals must be submitted by mail and received no later than 4 p.m. on July 25, 2014, for federal fiscal year 2016 funding.

Colorado’s Fire Ecology Institute Receives Environmental Ed Award

March 13, 2014

The Fire Ecology Institute for Educators, offered each year by the Colorado State Forest Service, will be honored at the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education’s 2013 Awards for Excellence in Environmental Education.

The Fire Ecology Institute for Educators is a weeklong, rigorous exploration of fire and forest ecology.
The Fire Ecology Institute for Educators is a weeklong, rigorous exploration of fire and forest ecology.

The award was created to celebrate exceptional and inclusive environmental education programs in Colorado.

Since 2001, the Fire Ecology Institute for Educators has provided a weeklong, rigorous training workshop for teachers and natural resource educators that explores wildland fire and forest ecology. Since its inception, the program has trained more than 300 educators and reached over 9,000 students.

“There are no programs similar to the Fire Ecology Institute in Colorado, in terms of content, student reach, length or program depth. It is an honor to have this unique program recognized through an Award for Excellence in Environmental Education,” said Shawna Crocker, Project Learning Tree coordinator for the CSFS.

The institute is one of only 10 awardees statewide. All recipients will be showcased at CAEE’s 16th Annual Awards Celebration held on March 21 at the University of Denver. For more information, contact CAEE at (303) 273-9527 or visit www.caee.org.

For additional information about the Fire Ecology Institute for Educators, visit http://coloradoplt.org and click on “Our Programs.”

Late Winter the Best Time to Prune Trees

March 4, 2014

Late winter, from mid-February until early March, is the best time to prune most urban trees. Trees are still dormant at this time of year and, unlike in early winter, wound closure will be rapid if pruning occurs just prior to the time new growth emerges.

Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager, demonstrates proper pruning techniques at a workshop.
Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager, demonstrates proper pruning techniques at a workshop.

Although some elms, silver maples, birch and walnut trees exude sap if pruned in the late winter or early spring, this should not harm the tree.

“Applying proper pruning techniques at the correct time of year is an essential component of maintaining our urban forests,” said Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service. “By being proactive and pruning trees during the late winter, residents can help maintain the health, appearance and safety of their trees for the long-term.”

The CSFS offers the following pruning tips:

  • Know what you want to accomplish before you get out the saw – don’t remove any branches without a reason.
  • Develop or maintain a dominant leader, and don’t cut off the tops of trees.
  • Remove any torn, dead or broken branches.
  • Prevent branches below the permanent canopy from growing upright or too large. • Space the main branches along a dominant trunk.
  • Keep all branches less than one-half the trunk diameter.
  • Retain branches with wider angles to the main trunk, as compared to those with tighter angles to the main trunk.
  • Always prune at the branch collar – the point where one branch joins a larger one.
  • Limit pruning of newly planted trees to the removal of dead, damaged or crossing limbs, or those interfering with the main leader.
  • Avoid removing more than 25 percent of a tree’s branches in any one year.
  • Emerald ash borer, an invasive insect responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in more than 20 states, has now been detected in Colorado. Urban foresters now recommend close inspection of ash trees, especially during any pruning activities. For more information visit http://www.eabcolorado.com.
  • If the job requires running a chainsaw overhead or removing large branches/entire trees, contact an insured, licensed, certified arborist. A list of these professionals for your area can be found at http://www.isa-arbor.com.

For more information, visit the Trees section of our website.

Annual Forest Health Report Details Threats, Opportunities for Colorado Forests

February 19, 2014

Today, the Colorado State Forest Service released the 2013 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests at the annual Joint Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Hearing at the State Capitol.

2013 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests
2013 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests

The 2013 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests (2.1 MB PDF) details forest health concerns throughout the state and the opportunities available for landowners to mitigate their effects.

Each year, the Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests provides information to the Colorado General Assembly and residents of Colorado about the health and condition of forests across the state.

The report provides recent data, figures and maps detailing major insect and disease concerns in the state, including the expansion of spruce beetle activity and the detection of emerald ash borer – an invasive pest first discovered in Colorado in 2013, which poses serious risks to the state’s urban forest health.

This is the 13th consecutive year the CSFS has produced a report on the state of Colorado’s forests and the actions it is taking to mitigate forest health concerns. The theme of this year’s report is “Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Opportunities,” with an emphasis on the link between the forest health risks of today and the opportunities to attenuate those risks in the future.

The principal source of information for the forest health report is the annual aerial forest health survey, a cooperative project between the CSFS and the Rocky Mountain Region of the USDA Forest Service. Other data sources include field inspections, CSFS contacts with forest landowners and special surveys designed to help ensure early detection of potentially invasive insect species.

“Colorado land managers continue to face unprecedented challenges in their pursuit to foster healthy, thriving forests,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service.

Lester said that insect and disease outbreaks, devastating wildfires, and recent floods have brought to light the necessity of working together to actively manage Colorado forests.

Copies of the 2013 Forest Health Report are available at CSFS district and field offices or in the publications section of our website.

Insect & Disease Update – Supplement to the 2013 Report

The 2013 report also includes a special online supplement, the 2013 Colorado Forest Insect and Disease Update (1.4 MB PDF), which is a comprehensive listing of the damaging agents of Colorado’s forests. This supplement is only available in the publications section of our website.

Colorado Project Learning Tree Educators Invited to Apply for Free Seedling Trees

February 12, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service is accepting applications from all Project Learning Tree-trained educators to receive free seedling trees from its Fort Collins nursery.

Planting seedlings in burn areas helps prevent soil erosion and runoff into rivers and streams.
Planting seedlings in burn areas helps prevent soil erosion and runoff into rivers and streams.

Interested teachers can apply to receive seedlings for planting projects on public or private land, or as awards to students for events and contests.

The purpose of the Free Seedlings for Educators Program, which is funded through a grant from the American Forest Foundation and Project Learning Tree, is to encourage Colorado teachers to become certified by PLT while promoting student involvement in tree-planting and forest health projects.

“Free seedlings have never been available in the past, so this opportunity should encourage more Colorado educators to get certified by Project Learning Tree,” said Shawna Crocker, CSFS Project Learning Tree coordinator. “Educators can then put their PLT certification to work by engaging their students in an environmental education activity or planting project using the seedlings.”

Trees will be available for spring or fall plantings in quantities of up to 200 per teacher. Applicants may also request a $100 stipend to help pay for additional project expenses.

Trees are approximately 12 inches high and are grown at the CSFS Nursery in Fort Collins. CSFS district foresters will be available to offer awardees advice on species selection, planting methods and long-term tree care.

How to Apply

Applicants must agree to promote proposed planting projects in their community and attend a PLT workshop before receiving their seedling tree shipment. Any Colorado PLT workshop offered throughout the year qualifies; the next workshop will be offered March 29 and additional upcoming trainings are listed online at the Colorado PLT website. Applicants who have attended a workshop in the last ten years are not required to attend another.

For additional information, to register for a workshop or to obtain an application packet, go to www.coloradoplt.org.

Completed applications must be submitted by e-mail and received no later than 5 p.m. on March 21. Applications will be reviewed by a CSFS committee, and successful applicants will be notified by March 30.

Project Learning Tree provides professional development for educators and uses the forest as a “window” on the world to increase students’ understanding of our environment and to help develop their ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues. The Colorado program has been coordinated by the Colorado State Forest Service since 1984, training 500-800 educators per year in workshops around the state. In turn, Colorado teachers reach approximately 15,000 students annually.

US Forest Service and CSFS Announce 2013 Aerial Forest Health Survey Results

January 30, 2014

On Jan. 30, the US Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service released the results of the annual aerial forest health survey in Colorado.

mpb-lp-pp-buckhorn2-2013_wmc-web
Active mountain pine beetle infestations persisted in mixed lodgepole/ponderosa pine forests in several areas of the northern Front Range, including the Buckhorn Creek Basin in Larimer County. Photo: William Ciesla

The survey indicates that the spread of the mountain pine beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically, while the spruce beetle outbreak continues to expand. Each summer the agencies work together to aerially monitor insect and disease-caused tree mortality or damage across Colorado forestland.

Mountain Pine Beetle

The mountain pine beetle epidemic slowed again in 2013, with the lowest acreage of active infestation observed in 15 years. Statewide, mountain pine beetle was active on 97,000 acres in 2013. This brings the total infestation to 3.4 million acres in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996.

Spruce Beetle

The spruce beetle outbreak was active on 398,000 acres across the state, expanding by 216,000 new acres in 2013, compared to 183,000 new acres in 2012. The total area affected by this beetle since 1996 has reached more than 1.1 million acres.

Aspen

Conversely, aspen forest conditions in the state have continued to improve. The aerial survey indicates that although there is continued mortality following drought in the early 2000s, the decline has slowed, with only 1,200 acres impacted in 2013.

Forestry Agencies Help Protect Colorado’s Forested Areas

Forestry agencies have a key role in sustaining forest ecosystems, which provide many benefits to the people of Colorado and many surrounding states. Whether progress is measured by the reduction of large-scale wildfires, timber harvested or number of forest acres treated; the outcome is the same: healthy and resilient forests, and the protection of forested watersheds.

While the US Forest Service takes action on National Forest lands, the CSFS works with private landowners to help them meet their management objectives to achieve healthy forests. The CSFS will release a new publication on the spruce beetle by April, and in 2013 held educational public meetings about the beetle for citizens in Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Lake, Las Animas, Pueblo and Saguache counties.

For more highlights on the 2013 aerial detection survey, visit the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region website.

Additional information will be available in late February with the release of the 2013 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests.

CSFS Launches Natural Resources Grants Database

January 21, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service has just launched a comprehensive grants and assistance database for community groups, landowners, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and others to search for programs that promote the health and welfare of Colorado’s natural resources.

Colorado's diverse natural resources are important to recreation and tourism, water and air quality, and local and state economies.
Colorado’s diverse natural resources are important to recreation and tourism, water and air quality, and local and state economies.

The online Natural Resources Grants and Assistance Database offers a free, searchable index of grant opportunities that pertain to many natural resources topics; examples include agroforestry, education, forest restoration, research, urban forestry and wildfire mitigation.

In addition to offering information on programs administered through the CSFS, the database includes opportunities sponsored by federal, state and private organizations that are relevant to Colorado and its residents.

“This database was developed largely in response to suggestions from our cooperators, who expressed the need for a centralized resource that helps them identify funding opportunities to achieve their forest stewardship goals,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the CSFS. “Ultimately, their actions will help protect Colorado’s diverse natural resources, which are important to recreation and tourism, water and air quality, and local and state economies.”

The database currently includes more than 50 active grant and assistance programs, and will be updated as new programs become available. This resource focuses primarily on opportunities for Colorado; however, funding opportunities also may apply regionally, nationally or, in some cases, internationally.

After identifying a program of interest, users can access detailed information on each grant or assistance opportunity, including:

  • general program description and eligibility requirements;
  • deadlines and how to apply;
  • required match or cost-share;
  • links to detailed program information; and
  • relevant contact information.

To access the database directly, click here. The tool is free, and users are not required to register or create a password to access the system.

A link to the database also is available on our Funding Assistance web page.

Funding Now Available for Forest Restoration Projects

January 14, 2014

Colorado landowners and communities that want to protect forested areas from severe wildfire and other forest health concerns may be eligible for grant funding from the Colorado State Forest Service.

Chimney Hollow forest restoration project, Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.
Chimney Hollow forest restoration project, Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.

The CSFS is now accepting proposals for the Colorado Forest Restoration Grant Program, which helps fund projects that demonstrate a community-based approach to forest restoration. Proposals are due by March 20, and must address protection of water supplies or related infrastructure, as well as the restoration of forested watersheds.

Projects should focus on mitigating threats that affect watershed health, such as the build-up of vegetative fuels that increase the risk for severe wildfires, which could negatively impact watersheds. Specific project goals also could include preserving older trees, replanting deforested areas and improving the use of small-diameter trees as forest products. Projects are encouraged to engage the Colorado Youth Corps to supply labor, to help connect Colorado youth to the importance of protecting watersheds and communities.

“This program encourages local stakeholders to collaborate and develop forest restoration projects that promote active management of Colorado forests,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the CSFS. “These community efforts will help improve the health of Colorado’s forest watersheds while simultaneously reducing the threat of high-intensity fires and improving utilization of forest products.”

Projects must be located in communities with a CSFS-approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The state can fund up to 60 percent of each awarded project; grant recipients are required to match at least 40 percent of the total project cost through cash or in-kind contributions, which can include federal funds.

An interdisciplinary technical advisory panel, convened by the CSFS in partnership with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, will review project applications. The CSFS will notify successful applicants by this summer.

Applications and additional information about the Forest Restoration Grant Program are available at local CSFS district and field offices or on our Funding Assistance web page.

Seedling Tree Applications Now Available

January 7, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service is now accepting applications on a first-come, first-serve basis for more than 40 varieties of low-cost seedling trees and shrubs from its Fort Collins nursery. Orders will be available for pickup or statewide delivery early this spring.

Seedlings growing in the CSFS Nursery greenhouse.
Seedlings growing in the CSFS Nursery greenhouse.

Coloradans who are interested in conservation goals such as creating natural windbreaks, improving wildlife habitat or reforesting properties impacted by wildfire or floods are eligible to purchase the low-cost seedlings.

“The nursery prides itself on growing a variety of species suitable for Colorado’s diverse landscapes,” said CSFS Nursery Manager Josh Stolz. “Colorado-grown species are adaptable, hardy and ideal for wildfire recovery, riparian restoration and a variety of other conservation uses.”

The CSFS seedling tree program is designed to encourage Colorado farmers, ranchers and rural landowners to plant seedling trees and shrubs for conservation purposes. Through a cooperative effort with Colorado State University Extension offices and county conservation districts throughout the state, approximately 5,000 Coloradans plant seedling trees each year.

Seedling trees have many uses and benefits, including:

  • Wind/snow control to protect roadways and livestock
  • Enhanced wildlife habitat and reforestation
  • Increased property values
  • Energy conservation and reduced utility bills
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Reduced soil erosion

To purchase seedling trees from the CSFS, landowners must agree to use them for conservation purposes only, and not for landscaping or resale. Stolz said interested landowners should order as soon as possible, while the greatest selection of tree and shrub species is still available.

For more information about the CSFS seedling tree program, please contact your local CSFS district office, visit our Buying Trees web page or call the CSFS Nursery at (970) 491-8429.

Students Devise Novel Way to Spread FireWise Plant Seeds

January 7, 2014

Four Colorado sixth-graders came up with a design to distribute FireWise seeds in the state’s forests to reduce the risk of wildfires. Their design was homemade bird feeders.

An all-natural bird feeder designed by the Master Mindstormers team. Photo: John Reasoner
An all-natural bird feeder designed by the Master Mindstormers team. Photo: John Reasoner

In November, participants from the FIRST® Lego League team called the Master Mindstormers visited the Colorado State Forest Service Outreach Division in Fort Collins.

FIRST®, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a worldwide organization that provides an opportunity for kids ages 9 to 18 to compete in areas related to science and technology.

The 2013 competition theme was “Nature’s Fury,” and teams were required to choose a natural disaster, identify a problem and find a solution. The Master Mindstormers team chose Colorado wildfires as their topic and are focusing on strategies to reduce the risk of wildfires in Colorado.

During the team’s visit with the CSFS Outreach Division, they learned about wildfires and defensible space through discussions and an activity from the FireWorks Curriculum called the “Fire Triangle in Wildlands.” They also volunteered their time to help build FireWise seed packets, which are mixes of fire-resistant wildflower seeds given to landowners to help reduce potential wildfire fuels through landscaping.

mindstormers-jreasoner
Colorado sixth-grade Master Mindstormers team create all-natural bird feeders. Photo: John Reasoner

In order to lessen the threat of wildfires in Colorado, the Master Mindstormers have designed a method to disperse FireWise seeds. They came up with the creative idea of building an all-natural bird feeder as their method of dispersal. The feeder is made by taking pinecones, covering them in a natural substance such as honey or nut butter, and then rolling them in FireWise seed mix and bird seed.

Their idea was that after the birds eat and pass the seeds, nature will do the rest. They stated in a letter to Governor Hickenlooper that “the birds or other animals would get food to eat, introduce these flowers to the environment, and make Colorado a more fire-resistant state.” The team hopes to distribute the feeders in Colorado forests themselves, as well as recruit other classes or groups to get involved in making and distributing the feeders.

On Nov. 23, 2013, the Master Mindstormers took second place with their idea at the FIRST® Lego League qualifier competition at the University of Colorado at the Denver-Auraria campus. They received the Judge’s Award at the state tournament on Saturday, December 14.

Congratulations, Master Mindstormers!

To view the state tournament results, visit http://fll.coloradofirst.org/news/championship-awards-2013.