Mistletoe: Holiday Decoration or Parasite to Colorado Pines?

In Colorado, the term mistletoe can invoke images of either stolen kisses at Christmas time or parasitic infestations that mar majestic pine trees. So which is it?

Limber pine dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium cyanocarpum) grows on limber pine and Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine.
Limber pine dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium cyanocarpum) grows on limber pine and Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine.

“The truth is, mistletoe is responsible for both,” said Sky Stephens, forest entomologist for the Colorado State Forest Service.

Mistletoe is the common name for several families of parasitic plant species that grow on or within the branches of trees and shrubs.

Mistletoe plants grow on a wide range of host trees and can reduce their growth, predispose them to other insects and disease and sometimes kill them.

Some European cultures historically saw mistletoe as a representation of romance and fertility, however, and according to Christmas custom, when a man and woman meet under a hanging mistletoe plant, they are obliged to share a kiss.

The name “mistletoe” originally applied only to European mistletoe (Viscum album). This poisonous mistletoe species displays the characteristics of common Christmas mistletoe:

  • smooth-edged
  • paired evergreen leaves along a woody stem, and
  • waxy white berries growing in dense clusters.

America’s leafy or true mistletoe bears a similar appearance. In Colorado, the only leafy or true mistletoe is found on junipers.

Dwarf Mistletoe Species in Colorado

According to Stephens, six native species of the damaging parasitic plant are found in Colorado’s forests – five of which are dwarf mistletoes that look nothing like the traditional holiday mistletoe. Their branching, bulbous growths, which are olive-green, yellow or orange in color and up to 6 inches long, can cause severe tree damage.

“Each dwarf mistletoe species in Colorado tends to confine its attacks to one species of tree,” Stephens said. Host trees are mostly pines: ponderosa, lodgepole, limber, bristlecone and piñon. Douglas-fir trees also serve as mistletoe hosts. Dwarf mistletoes can only survive on a living host, so when a host tree dies, so do its dwarf mistletoe plants.

Dwarf mistletoe boasts one of the most effective means of seed dispersal among flowering plants – explosive germination. As seeds mature in female plants during late summer, pressure slowly builds inside the plant. Once the seeds mature, any disturbance can cause the plants to fire the seeds into the air, dispersing them an average of 30 feet at a speed of 60 mph.

“Mistletoe seeds are coated with a sticky substance that allows them to attach to the stems of other host trees, where new growths develop,” Stephens said.

Wildland Fires Naturally Regulate the Parasite

Wildland fires provide a natural means of regulating the distribution and severity of dwarf mistletoe. Large, severe fires can effectively kill expansive areas of infected trees, also eliminating the parasite from tree stands. The tree seedlings that soon begin to sprout are then free of the parasite.

Learn more about dwarf mistletoe and the five parasitic plant species found in Colorado’s forests.

CSFS Provides Christmas Trees for State Capitol, CSU

Fresh-cut Christmas trees provided by the Fort Collins District of the Colorado State Forest Service are on display at the State Capitol, Colorado State University President’s Office and other CSU offices.

The State Capitol tree pays tribute to Colorado military members lost in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families.
The State Capitol tree pays tribute to Colorado military members lost in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families.

The subalpine fir trees were harvested in late November at approximately 8,500 feet in northern Larimer County on State Trust Land. CSFS foresters selectively cut trees on the property to improve forest health.

Tree Pays Tribute to Colorado Military Members

At a ceremony on December 5, Gov. Hickenlooper lit the 26-foot tree at the State Capitol. Themed the “Gold Star Tree of Honor,” the tree pays tribute to Colorado military members lost in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families.

Colorado National Guard soldiers and their families decorated the tree, and the boughs trimmed off the tree are being shipped to National Guard personnel deployed throughout the world.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

Mike Hughes, assistant district forester with the CSFS Fort Collins District, ensures that CSFS Christmas trees are treated to reduce fire risk. After the trees are cut, he soaks each tree base in a solution that encourages water absorption.

Hughes says the most important safety measure for any Christmas tree is making sure its stand is always filled with water, because a well-watered tree is much less likely to cause a fire in the home.

Christmas tree safety tips, which apply to locally cut trees and those from a nearby tree lot:

  • Select a fresh tree. Make sure needles do not drop off readily when you run your hands over them or shake the tree trunk.
  • Saw the base. A few hours after being cut, trees start to dry out at the base. To improve water absorption, saw a 1-inch cookie off the tree base before submerging it in water.
  • Avoid heat. Christmas trees should not be located near fireplaces, heat sources or areas with extended direct sunlight.
  • Water often. Make sure the waterline never drops below the base. During the first few days at home, this probably means adding water twice daily.
  • Minimize ignition risks. Keep open flames away from trees, and don’t overload nearby circuits by plugging too many lights into a wall socket.
  • Monitor the tree. If a Christmas tree dries out faster than expected, remove it from the home.

Christmas Tree Solution

The following Christmas tree-watering solution helps increase absorption:

  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 2 ounces liquid bleach
  • 2 pinches Epsom salts
  • 1/2 teaspoon borax
  • 1 teaspoon chelated iron (available at garden shops)

Mix well, then cool before filling the base.
Keep extra solution on hand and regularly refill the tree stand.

Charity Delivers 300 Christmas Trees for Less-Fortunate Families

Gift of a Green Christmas, a Fort Collins-based charity that each year provides hundreds of free Christmas trees to families that otherwise would not have one, continues to deliver more joy every year.

CSFS employees and volunteers harvest young lodgepole pines trees on the Colorado State University Pingree Park Campus.
CSFS employees and volunteers harvest young lodgepole pines trees on the Colorado State University Pingree Park Campus.

This year, the charity delivered 300 trees provided by the Colorado State Forest Service.

“Many more families will benefit this year thanks to the Colorado State Forest Service and Pingree Park,” said Ryan Behm, who runs Gift of a Green Christmas.

The young lodgepole pine trees were harvested from Pingree Park, Colorado State University’s mountain campus and outdoor classroom for natural resources students. As part of an Eagle Scout community project, a local high school student led the volunteer cutting efforts. Trees were only cut in designated locations to improve forest health on the campus.

“In much of the stand, there are too many trees per acre to allow for fully grown, mature trees. Thinning out some of these lodgepole pines will help us create more room for healthier trees to grow,” said Boyd Lebeda, district forester for the CSFS Fort Collins District.

Behm started Gift of a Green Christmas in 2003 and delivered 23 trees the first year. Last year, the program provided trees to 257 families in the Fort Collins-Loveland area.

Deliveries are always made the first two weekends in December; donated lighting, ornaments and a stand are included with each tree. Behm obtains most of the recipient families’ names from United Way of Larimer County 2-1-1, House of Neighborly Service and similar organizations that support families in need.

“The most powerful thing about this program is that our volunteers are able to physically deliver Christmas trees to families and show them that we really do care,” Behm said.

Today is Colorado Gives Day

December 4 is Colorado Gives Day – an initiative to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving.

Donations provide tree seedlings that will be planted on lands most severely impacted by wildfires and other disasters.
Donations provide tree seedlings that will be planted on lands most severely impacted by wildfires and other disasters.

Through a special promotion today, Polar Bottle and reGrowCO, which have teamed to create a limited edition water bottle to raise funds for the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Foundation and the CSFS Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund, will be doubling charitable contributions.

For every reGrowCO bottle purchased today, $7 will be donated to the CSFS fund, established specifically to provide tree seedlings that will be planted on lands most severely impacted by wildfires and other disasters. That’s twice the amount normally donated from a bottle purchase!

To purchase a benefit bottle or learn more about Polar Bottle and the reGrowCO project, go to http://www.polarbottle.com/polar-bottle-shop/limited-edition-regrow-co-24oz/.

https://advancing.colostate.edu/2207.

Colorado State Forest Service web pages do not endorse any commercial providers or their products.

Tree Preparation and Watering Tips for the Winter Months

Even though urban trees on Colorado’s Front Range, Eastern Plains and Western Slope are now going dormant, they require care before and during the winter to remain in top health.

It's important to prepare your urban trees for winter's cold, arid conditions.
It’s important to prepare your urban trees for winter’s cold, arid conditions.

“It’s very important to prepare your trees for winter’s cold, arid conditions, and also to continue watering them during drier periods over the next several months,” said Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service.

He emphasizes that younger trees require the most care. The CSFS offers the following tips to prepare Colorado’s urban trees for winter:

  • Wrap the trunk. In Colorado, thin-barked trees like honeylocust, ash, maple and linden are susceptible to sunscald and frost cracks because of the drastic temperature fluctuations in fall and winter. To prevent bark damage, guard the trunks of younger trees up to the first branches using commercial tree wrap. Leave the wrap on until April.
  • Mulch the base. Apply 2 to 4 inches of wood chips, bark or other organic mulch near the base of the tree, but not against it, to reduce soil evaporation, improve water absorption and insulate against temperature extremes. Check your community recycling program, as some programs provide wood chips free of charge.
  • Recycle leaves. Instead of disposing of fallen leaves, consider layering them around the base of each tree as a natural mulch, or blend them into the yard with a mulching mower to retain nutrients.
  • Prune conservatively. Late winter is the best time for pruning most tree species, but it can be done whenever trees are dormant over the winter months. Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches and improve form. Always prune at the branch collar – the point where a branch joins a larger one – and don’t remove any branches without good reason.
  • Give them a good drink. Slowly water each tree in the area from just outside the trunk to the extent of the longest branches. Water at the rate of 10 gallons per inch of tree diameter.

Wood says urban trees require additional, regular watering over the winter. During extended dry periods (e.g., 2-3 weeks without snow cover), provide supplemental water per the guidelines above. The best time for winter watering is on warmer days, when snow has melted off and the temperature is above 40 degrees.

For more information about urban tree care, visit the Trees section of our website.

Updated Wildfire Protection Guides Available for Landowners

The Colorado State Forest Service has updated its two principal guides for protecting property in or near forested areas from wildfire, and the guides now are available to landowners.

Image on the front cover of the publication, FireWise Construction: Site Design & Building Materials.
Image on the front cover of the publication, FireWise Construction: Site Design & Building Materials.

FireWise Construction: Site Design & Building Materials (1.3 MB PDF) and Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible Space (738 KB PDF) address structural ignitability and defensible space, respectively.

Defensible space refers to the area around a home where natural and manmade fuels are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire.

“The destructive wildfires we’ve witnessed in recent years highlight the need for landowners to address home protection before they face the next wildfire,” said Lisa Mason, outreach forester for the CSFS and Colorado’s “Are You FireWise?” Program lead. “Although there is no guarantee firefighters will be able to save your home during a wildfire, the odds increase if you follow the guidelines offered in these two publications.”

Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible ZonesThe guides were developed by experts in the fields of wildfire behavior and FireWise construction practices.

Although much of the information in the guides remains unmodified from previous years, several important changes were made based on lessons learned from recent wildfires in the wildland-urban interface. Among these changes include an added emphasis on:

  • the ongoing need for maintenance of surface fuels around the home, such as mowing grass and raking up pine needles
  • the importance of keeping gutters, decks and roofs free of pine needles and other debris year-round
  • understanding how wildfires may start from burning ember showers, and not just direct heat and flame
  • describing fuels mitigation in specific forest types

Also, the recommendations on FireWise building design and materials now are based on the 2009 International Wildland-Urban Interface Code.

Recently, the state’s wildfire command and control duties were transferred to the Division of Fire Prevention and Control; however, the CSFS continues to be the lead state agency for providing forest stewardship and wildfire mitigation assistance to private landowners.

The revised property protection guidelines are available at CSFS district offices or in our publications section.

Grand County Sawmills Find Success in Beetle-Kill Wood Markets

The smell of fresh-cut pine, the steady sound of heavy machinery and the site of semi-trailers dropping off regular truckloads of logs are clear indicators that Grand County sawmills are alive and kicking.

CSFS Granby District foresters, Ryan McNertney and Ron Cousineau, visit Grand County's three largest sawmills.
CSFS Granby District foresters, Ryan McNertney and Ron Cousineau, visit Grand County’s three largest sawmills.

Colorado’s timber industry has seemingly been in dire straits in recent years. After decades of struggling to stay afloat in a flagging wood products market, the industry faced the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which left behind millions of acres of dead lodgepole pine forest.

Yet three determined sawmill owners in Grand County have managed to remain successful by finding regional markets for beetle-kill and other local timber. They obtain the majority of this wood from timber sales on local private lands, where forests are harvested based on advice and assistance from the Colorado State Forest Service.

“These guys are actually processing high volumes of wood harvested from beetle-kill areas,” said Ryan McNertney, forester for the CSFS Granby District. “This is wood that many people incorrectly assume is of low quality, but these mills have managed to find ways to process and market it effectively.”

Three Mills, Three Niche Markets

One thing the owners of Grand County’s three largest sawmills agree on is that adaptability is vital to success. Each owner has found a way to meet niche demands in the current wood products market, which means they have a heavy focus on beetle-kill wood. All three businesses are family owned and operated.

The mill owned by Leonard Peeling in Fraser, a second-generation operation in existence since the 1940s, cuts and peels lodgepole pine logs to produce fence posts and corral poles. The semi-processed lumber ships to wholesale wood treatment facilities, which weather-proof it before remarketing the finished product to farmers, ranchers and homeowners. Owner Rick Leonard says that a major advantage of having a smaller mill operation is the ability to adapt to a changing market.

“We’re flexible. If I have a customer who wants a nine-foot post, I can cut a nine-foot post,” he said.

Farther north, near Granby, Ranch Creek LTD also focuses on the wholesale market, but with a heavy emphasis on rough-sawn dimensional lumber, such as crating material for pallets, banding boards for pipes and landscape timbers.

And while Leonard Peeling and Ranch Creek focus on providing unfinished product to the wholesale market, Hester’s Log and Lumber in Kremmling focuses on selling custom products directly to the retail market, such as decorative beams, flooring and wood paneling – much with the distinctive blue-stain signature seen after a beetle outbreak. Ironically, a glut of beetle-kill wood has been a boon to the success of the local mill owners.

“The beetle has definitely been a boost for our business,” says Kent Hester, owner of the Kremmling mill and a former forester.

The mill owners know that wood quality is unaffected by prior mountain pine beetle infestation, and are grateful that consumers also now recognize this fact. As a result, the blue-stain quality of the wood actually has increased in popularity with some consumers – including many who reside out of state. The processed wood from these mills is shipped to addresses in Colorado and at least 10 other Western states. Hester says he has even shipped product as far away as Hawaii. And Mike Jolovich, owner of Ranch Creek LTD, says his goal is to market 20 percent of his product outside Colorado. He attributes his success in part to finding clients who are willing to spend a few extra dollars for a higher quality finished product.

“We’ve tried to stay away from the main line to make a little more revenue,” says Jolovich.

Read the full story

Southern Colorado Community’s Efforts Exemplify Effective Fire Mitigation

With 325 acres just completed to complement existing fuelbreaks in the community, a mountain subdivision along the New Mexico border has now treated more than 3,000 forested acres – becoming a model for how Colorado communities can band together to reduce wildfire risk.

The new fuelbreaks at Santa Fe Trail Ranch offer a more open forest.
The new fuelbreaks at Santa Fe Trail Ranch offer a more open forest.

Santa Fe Trail Ranch covers approximately 17,000 acres in the foothills southwest of Trinidad. I-25 provides primary access to the ranch, which abuts the state line on the south.

Treatments to reduce wildfire risk in the community have been ongoing since 2005, when community leaders utilized funding and assistance from the Colorado State Forest Service to stimulate widespread landowner involvement.

A Community at Risk

Santa Fe Trail Ranch consists of 454 lots on steep terrain – each about 35 acres. Historic fires created a forest mosaic of ponderosa and piñon pine, juniper and Douglas-fir. Beneath the forest canopy, a thick shrub understory composed of Gambel oak, New Mexico locust, mountain mahogany, skunk-bush and chokecherry dominates the landscape.

Fire history studies show that natural, low-intensity fires once burned in this type of ecosystem every 13 years or less. But the vegetation grows dangerously dense in the absence of regular fires, which creates the potential for more intense wildfire events. And in the long run, wildfire in this area is inevitable.

“Having a fire here is not a matter of if, but a matter of when,” said R.C. Ghormley, another resident who has been pivotal to community-wide fire mitigation.

A large, intense wildfire in the area could impact watersheds and cause excessive runoff and sedimentation to Raton Creek and Trinidad Lake. Also, ponds in the area could fill with sediment, compromising the water supply for wildlife and livestock.

Besides lightning-strike fires that occur almost annually on the ranch, large wildfires are common in the surrounding area. The Morley Fire burned 300 acres within the subdivision in 1978. In 2002, three large fires together burned 40,000 acres near the subdivision. Then, in 2011, the 27,000-acre Track Fire was within 3 miles and headed for the ranch before a wind shift diverted it away and across I-25.

Mark Loveall, assistant district forester with the CSFS La Veta District, says these events all highlight the need to be prepared before a fire arrives. “To prevent loss of structures during a wildfire, each landowner needs to take the steps necessary to protect his or her property,” said Loveall.

Read the full story

Evergreen Residents Receive Colorado Forestry Awards

GOLDEN, Colo. – The Colorado State Forest Service has recognized separate Evergreen residents as Colorado Tree Farmer of the Year and Outstanding Logger of the Year.

John Davis, Logger of the Year (left), and Jim and Vicki Norton, Tree Farmers of the Year (right).
John Davis, Logger of the Year (left), and Jim and Vicki Norton, Tree Farmers of the Year (right).

On September 15, Jim and Vicki Norton received the 2012 Colorado Tree Farmer of the Year Award for exceptional multiple-objective management of their 48 forested acres in north Evergreen.

The awards ceremony included a tour of the Norton’s Silver Spruce Springs Ranch property for other tree farmers and landowners involved with the state’s Forest Ag program. Ray Herrmann, Larimer County Tree Farmer and chair of the Colorado Tree Farm Committee, presented the award.

Under a long-term management plan developed with the CSFS, the Nortons manage their property to produce forest products, reduce the risk of severe wildfire and enhance forest health. Their goal is to make their living solely off the production and sale of forest products, many of which are processed using their own sawmill.

Products include Adirondack chairs and other custom furniture, firewood, sawlogs, fence posts and custom-milled fireplace mantles. Many of these products are now marketed through their company, Whiskey Hill Rustic Furniture, LLC.

“Besides helping control the mountain pine beetle, we thin overgrown and over-mature stands to make better wildlife habitat,” Vicki said. She says they now have more than 75 resident wild turkeys and have even seen two bull moose on the property.

Lawton Grinter, a forester with the CSFS Golden District, said the Tree Farmer of the Year Award is an excellent tribute to the Norton’s work and passion for private forestry.

A tree farm is any tract of privately owned land that is voluntarily dedicated by its owner to growing renewable resources, while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of sustainable forestry.

The Colorado State Forest Service Proudly Presents the 2012 Forestry Fair

Join the CSFS, Warner College of Natural Resources and many other forestry/natural resource exhibitors for a day filled with free tours, demonstrations, kids’ activities and presentations.

Free & Open to the Public

Saturday, Sept. 29

LOCATION

Featuring:

  • Learn about the role of our forests in Colorado
  • Seedling tree nursery tours
  • Wildland fire engine shop tours
  • Forestry equipment demonstrations
  • Programs on forest insects and diseases, fire, forest products and community forestry
  • Kids’ activities, including puppet shows, tree seed plantings, fire experiments and crafts
  • Information about natural resource and forestry careers
  • Event flyer
  • For questions, please email CSFS_ForestryFair@mail.colostate.edu

Presentations

Tours

Crafts and Activities

Buford the Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Decorate a Christmas ornament for the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington DC!
  • Plant your own tree seeds
  • Meet Buford the Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Participate in Project Learning Tree activities

Demonstrations

Scheduled Demonstrations
Demonstrations Throughout the Day
  • CSU Logging Sports Team
  • Tree Identification
  • Davey Tree Climbing
  • Sawmill Demonstrations
  • Wood Chipper Demonstrations
  • Fire Ecology Demonstrations
  • What Do Foresters Do?
  • WOOD You Believe We Get So Much From Trees?

Exhibitors

  • Colorado State Forest Service
  • Warner College of Natural Resources
  • Colorado Department of Public Safety
  • Colorado Forest Products
  • Colorado Forestry Association
  • Colorado Natural Heritage Program
  • Colorado State University Alumni Association
  • Colorado Tree Farmers
  • Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program
  • CSU Logging Sports Team
  • Davey Tree
  • Front Range Community College
  • High Park Restoration Coalition
  • Larimer County Department of Natural Resources
  • Morgan Timber Products
  • National Park Service
  • Project Learning Tree
  • Society of American Foresters
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Veterans Green Jobs

Optional Lunch

  • Stuft Burger will serve lunch for $7 per person

Fire Adapted Communities Coalition Offers Wildfire Preparedness Workshops

The Fire Adapted Communities Coalition, in cooperation with Lowe’s Home Improvement and state and local partners, will present three wildfire preparedness workshops.

Homeowners will get hands-on instruction about choosing the most fire-resistant construction materials and advice about maintaining homes in wildfire-prone areas.

For more information about the workshops in:

  • Fort Collins (Sept. 15)
  • Littleton (Sept. 16)
  • Colorado Springs (Sept. 22)

Please visit, Colorado Rebuilds Fire Adapted Communities at: http://disastersafety.org/colorado-rebuilds

Lory State Park and Redstone Canyon Fuels Mitigation Help Firefighting Efforts

As the High Park Fire bore down on the northwest corner of Lory State Park near Fort Collins on June 11, foresters who’d spent three years thinning out a 375-acre fuelbreak in the area held their breath wondering if it would work.

When the fire reached a fuelbreak in Lory State Park, it dropped to the ground and burned more benignly through the thinned area until stopping at a control line established by retardant drops.
When the fire reached a fuelbreak in Lory State Park, it dropped to the ground and burned more benignly through the thinned area until stopping at a control line established by retardant drops.

The fire roared through the treetops, pushed by winds and devouring an unbroken canopy of dry, highly flammable pine needles. But when it hit the thinned area, it could no longer jump from tree to tree, so it dropped to the ground, just as foresters hoped it would.

Later inspection revealed that the flame front became a much more benign ground fire as it burned through the thinned area, occasionally torching individual trees or patches of trees until it hit a control line established by retardant drops. And there it was stopped, sparing not only the park, but a big chunk of the watershed for Horsetooth Reservoir.

“So many variables affect fire behavior that it’s difficult to point to one factor and say that this is what stopped that portion of the fire,” said Diana Selby, assistant district forester for the Fort Collins District of the Colorado State Forest Service. “But we can say that the fire behaved like we wanted it to and that firefighters took the opportunity to stop the fire using retardant drops.”

High-severity fire did not occur within the treatment areas and as a result, the watershed for Horsetooth Reservoir currently is not significantly threatened by post-fire runoff, Selby added.

Partnering to Manage Hazardous Fuels

For the past decade, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been working in tandem with the Colorado State Forest Service to actively manage hazardous fuels, including beetle-kill, in 20 state parks. The Colorado State Forest Service provides technical forestry assistance and helps plan and implement treatments.

“The value of fuels mitigation treatments at Lory State Park during the High Park Fire underscores the successful partnership that Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado State Forest Service have developed over the decade since the Hayman Fire,” said Matt Schulz, forest management coordinator, Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Complementing the fuels mitigation implemented in Lory State Park is work done by landowners in neighboring Redstone Canyon. Community members met every Saturday for four months to thin trees along community roads, creating a shaded fuelbreak and safer driving conditions. The group’s sweat equity reduced the cash cost of the overall project, resulting in more areas being treated. During the High Park Fire, Redstone Canyon fuelbreaks also were used for retardant drops and fire perimeter work.

The Lory State Park and Redstone Canyon fuels mitigation projects are part of a larger effort aimed at reducing hazardous fuels, mitigating the impacts of mountain pine beetles and restoring forest health in an area stretching from the lower Poudre Canyon south to Masonville.

“Although the 375-acre fuelbreak was dwarfed by the 87,200-acre High Park Fire, which exhibited extreme fire behavior due to high temperatures, heavy fuels and wind conditions, it underscores the benefits that can be achieved with partnerships and well-placed fuels treatments that help keep a large fire from becoming even more damaging and dangerous,” Schulz said.

CSFS Remains the Lead State Agency for Forestry, Wildfire Mitigation Information

Following recent changes related to the state’s wildfire command and control duties, the Colorado State Forest Service continues to be the lead state agency providing forest stewardship and wildfire mitigation assistance to private landowners.

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Healthy, diverse regeneration has occurred in areas of the Colorado State Forest where forest management treatments have been completed.

Wildfire Management Transition

On July 1, wildfire management and prescribed fire responsibilities transferred from the CSFS to the Colorado Department of Public Safety – centralizing the state’s fire management functions into a single, statewide point of contact for wildfire management.

The transition occurred after the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 1283 in the 2012 session, following a joint recommendation from Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado State University President Tony Frank.

CSFS Remains Committed to its Core Mission

As a service and outreach agency in the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU, the Colorado State Forest Service remains committed to its core mission of achieving “stewardship of Colorado’s diverse forest environments for the benefit of present and future generations.”

The forest management, applied research, education and outreach aspects of the CSFS remain with CSU and are fully available to agencies, organizations and landowners.

The CSFS also will continue to provide technical assistance and outreach related to home and community protection from wildfires, through its State Office in Fort Collins and 17 districts around the state.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources to achieve the greatest benefit for Colorado’s citizens.

Trees in Burn Areas More Susceptible to Bark Beetles

Although recent wildfires in Larimer County have destroyed numerous host trees harboring mountain pine beetle populations, many unburned, dead or dying trees remain and still harbor mature beetles.

300
Trees scorched by wildfire can be more susceptible to a beetle infestation.

When these beetles fly in search of healthy new host trees – the annual flights usually begin in early July – they will find stressed trees scorched by the fire and now more susceptible to a beetle infestation.

“Preventive treatments for surviving trees may be more important than ever right now and over the next few seasons, because in fire-impacted areas these trees represent a smaller selection of hosts and have likely experienced additional stressors,” said Sky Stephens, forest entomologist for the Colorado State Forest Service.

“We are not aware of any studies that have looked at the impacts of heat, smoke or fire on chemical preventive products for mountain pine beetles,” Stephens said. “But most chemicals degrade faster when exposed to heat.”

More information about mountain pine beetles and preventive treatments.

More information about Insects and Diseases Associated with Forest Fires (7.3 MB PDF).

Denver Waterways to Benefit from Community Forestry Funding

Denver’s waterways are about to get a little cleaner – and a little greener.

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Volunteers plant trees to create a new riverside forest along the South Platte River.

This spring, the Colorado State Forest Service awarded a total of $100,000 for four projects to restore and protect Denver-area waterways, while reconnecting local populations with their invaluable water resources.

Funding for the projects, which involve the removal of invasive species and planting of native trees in riparian and wetland areas, was awarded under the Denver Metropolitan Urban Waters Forestry Project administered by the CSFS.

“When our waterways become polluted or otherwise degraded, it not only harms the environment, but also prevents the surrounding communities from enjoying related socioeconomic benefits,” said Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager. “This program helps improve the quality and accessibility of Denver-area waterways, largely through urban forestry practices.”

Project funding was made available to the CSFS Urban and Community Forestry Program through a U.S. Forest Service grant resulting from its involvement in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. The CSFS and the USFS Rocky Mountain Region sponsored the project to improve and restore crucial Denver-area waterways using urban forestry methods to involve local communities in the stewardship of these areas, and to showcase these projects for replication in other urban areas with degraded waterways.

The purpose of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership is to reconnect urban communities – especially those that are underserved or economically stressed – with their local waterways, and to improve collaboration among agencies striving to improve those waters. Specific program objectives include addressing waterway protection and restoration, ensuring community involvement and education, and working with local officials and community-based organizations to leverage local expertise and funding.

  • City and County of Denver Parks and Recreation ($50,442)
  • Institute for Environmental Solutions ($20,000)
  • South Suburban Parks and Recreation ($20,000)
  • Bluff Lake Nature Center ($9,050)

According to the official request for funding proposals, the South Platte watershed was selected because of the large number of citizens impacted by local waterways and potential economic and social opportunities:

“Urban waters within the South Platte watershed impact large populations in the adjacent, upstream, and downstream Denver metropolitan communities. Urban waters have the potential to be treasured centerpieces of urban revival, and proper tree planting and care along these riparian areas plays a role in this. Restoring urban riparian ecosystems with tree planting and care will help grow local businesses and enhance educational, recreational, and social opportunities in the communities through which they pass.”

“Planting and maintaining the right trees in these areas will restore degraded waterways by offering flood control, absorbing pollutants and providing shade to reduce water loss and stabilize water temperatures for the benefit of aquatic organisms,” said Wood, who manages the project for the CSFS.

As required under the scope of the Denver Metropolitan Urban Waters Forestry Project, all of the awarded proposals are located in the South Platte River corridor or along its major tributaries in the Denver Metropolitan area. Each awarded project is required to put forth an equal cash/in-kind match from the applicants, and project work must be completed by Aug. 31, 2013.

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership includes the following national agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Interior, Department of Transportation and Department of the Army, as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Descriptions of the four CSFS-funded projects are as follows:

City and County of Denver Parks and Recreation

The funded DPR project advances employment and job training opportunities, environmental education, riparian restoration and community engagement. Under DPR supervision, the Mile High Youth Corps will be utilized for up to four weeks along the project area to remove Siberian elm and Russian-olive trees.

The project also involves planting 135 trees and shrubs of diverse species, including American plum, western chokecherry, narrowleaf cottonwood, plains cottonwood, peachleaf willow and Rocky Mountain juniper. Environmental Learning for Kids will assist with outreach and education, and DPR will engage an outside contractor to assist with mulching, pruning, inspection, monitoring and watering of all tree plantings for up to three years.

Institute for Environmental Solutions

The Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) is a Denver-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing environmental challenges, advancing science-based solutions to the region’s most pressing environmental concerns – including water quality.

The CSFS-funded IES project uses a multi-phase plan to restore and revitalize the Clear Creek waterway as it passes through the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Conservation Area. IES will collaborate with the City of Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation Department and Mile High Youth Corps to remove invasive Russian-olives prior to planting trees to replace canopy gaps.

The tree-planting plan is designed to optimize air and water quality, enhance stormwater management and protect the native habitat of the Ute Ladies’-Tresses Orchid species. IES will recruit and train community volunteers on proper tree care and maintenance practices.

IES also will take steps to increase awareness of the benefits of urban forestry by educating the local community through informative signs posted near planting sites and providing educational materials that focus on the many ecosystem benefits trees provide.

South Suburban Parks and Recreation South

Suburban Parks and Recreation (SSPR) is planting 200 site-appropriate trees to create a new riverside forest along the South Platte River. An automated, underground drip irrigation system will be installed to ensure tree establishment and vigorous growth.

SSPR is engaging student and faculty volunteers from the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at Metropolitan State College, local service clubs, high school students and the South Metro Chamber of Commerce.

SSPR will provide community outreach about the newly enhanced area of the South Platte River and distribute educational pamphlets on the values and benefits of community forests. Environmental stewards will assist with tree care, while SSPR forestry crews will lead efforts to establish and care for newly planted trees by maintaining irrigation systems, overseeing regular inspections, providing organic mulch and performing necessary pruning.

Bluff Lake Nature Center

The Bluff Lake Nature Center (BLNC), located in northeast Denver, is a nonprofit agency that owns and manages an urban wildlife refuge and outdoor classroom. The refuge is home to abundant wetland wildlife and native plants. According to the nonprofit’s website, nearly 5,000 elementary students visit Bluff Lake each year as part of its formal education programs.

The Bluff Lake Nature Center project focuses on maintenance of existing plantings and on making improvements to wetland/ riparian wildlife habitat. Funding will help with the removal of invasive species and planting of native species to attract and support wildlife, which in turn should enhance visitor experiences.

The BLNC will use funding to continue its management of woody invasive species and removal of slash piles, which are chipped and used as soil amendments for continued plantings and erosion control. A community of trained volunteers will help coordinate these efforts, as well as efforts to educate the public on the importance of watershed and wildlife habitat.

HB 1285 Promotes Intergovernmental Cooperation to Address Wildland Fire Mitigation

The Colorado General Assembly passed several pieces of forestry-related legislation during the 2012 legislative session, including HB 1285, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation to address wildland fire mitigation, specifically as it pertains to utility purposes, such as electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunication services.

The Town of Winter Park worked with Union Pacific Railroad to remove hazardous dead trees in a 3.1-mile strip of railroad easement that runs through town.
The Town of Winter Park worked with Union Pacific Railroad to remove hazardous dead trees in a 3.1-mile strip of railroad easement that runs through town.

Wildland fire mitigation will be accomplished through forest management projects to reduce fuels in the affected areas.

The law requires local governments that own land either entirely or partially outside their own territorial boundaries to mitigate fuels on forest land affecting the contiguous land areas between the two entities.

On or before July 1, 2012, local governments must either enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the county or the CSFS to mitigate fuels on forest lands.

For more information about agreements with the CSFS, contact Scott Woods, assistant staff forester, at (303) 404-9057 or scott.woods@colostate.edu.

Recreating Safely Helps Prevent Forest Fires

The Colorado State Forest Service and other land management agencies encourage campers and other outdoor recreationists to follow a few simple tips to prevent human-caused wildfires.

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The Memorial Day weekend brings thousands of Colorado recreationists outdoors.

The Memorial Day weekend means an increase in outdoor recreation, so it’s important that everyone who is planning to have a campfire, use fireworks or drive off-road knows how to avoid accidentally starting a wildfire.

Even if vegetation looks green and the ground is wet from recent precipitation, campfires still need to be put dead out because they can smolder for days and then start a wildfire when conditions are right.

Before recreating outdoors, please check the fire bans or fire restrictions in Colorado.

Following are fire safety tips adapted from www.smokeybear.com:

  • If you smoke outdoors, make sure that you’re surrounded by a 3-foot clearing free of all flammable vegetation.
  • Don’t park vehicles on dry grass.
  • If off-road vehicle use is allowed, make sure internal combustion equipment has a spark arrester.
  • Know the county’s outdoor burning regulations; unlawful trash burning is a punishable offense.
  • Inspect your campsite and fire ring before leaving the area to make sure your fire is completely out.
  • Never take burning sticks out of a fire.
  • Never take any type of fireworks into undeveloped or wildland areas.
  • Keep stoves, lanterns and heaters away from combustibles.
  • Store flammable liquid containers in a safe place.
  • Never use stoves, lanterns and heaters inside a tent.
  • At the first sign of a wildfire, leave the area immediately using established trails or roads, and contact a forest ranger or local fire department as soon as possible.

Let’s Get Growing! Reforestation Event

On May 12, volunteers planted more than 200 seedling trees on private land burned during the April 2011 Crystal Fire.

CSFS Forester Mike Hughes shows volunteers the proper way to plant a seedling tree.
CSFS Forester Mike Hughes shows volunteers the proper way to plant a seedling tree.

Colorado Tree Farmers partnered with the Colorado State Forest Service to organize the Crystal Fire: Let’s Get Growing! event. Community members Deb and Dennis Pedersen, Linda Masterson and Cory Phillips donated the trees.

More than 100 people volunteered at the event held west of Fort Collins.

At various stations, participants learned about forest management, proper tree planting methods, wildland fire and wildlife habitats. Those who visited all stations received a certificate and a CSFS Nursery seedling tree to take home and plant. Children also helped decorate “tree cookie” ornaments that will accompany the National Capitol Christmas Tree to be transported from Colorado to Washington D.C. later this year.

Boy Scout Forestry Field Day Held at Ben Delatour Ranch

In late April, more than 30 CSFS volunteers teamed up to educate approximately 170 Boy Scouts about forestry.

Volunteers participated in the Boy Scout Forestry Field Day event held at Ben Delatour Ranch.
Volunteers participated in the Boy Scout Forestry Field Day event held at Ben Delatour Ranch.

The annual field day event took place at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch near Red Feather Lakes, Larimer County.

Boy Scouts, ages 11-17, observed a sawmill in operation, investigated mountain pine beetle damage, identified trees and shrubs, studied various tree stumps, visited an active forest management area, and planted seedlings in areas where many mountain pine beetle-infested trees were previously harvested.

Webelos, ages 9-10, participated in Project Learning Tree activities, identified plants and trees, used wildland fire tools, and investigated various wood properties and uses.

A special thanks goes to the participants and supporters of our annual Boy Scout Forestry Field Day – CSFS, CoWood and Longs Peak Chapter of the Society of American Foresters!

Upcoming CSFS Volunteer Events include:

  • Chipping project with trails association on the Black Forest (May 5);
  • Crystal Fire Memorial Planting (May 12) and;
  • Children’s Water Festival (May 15)

Arbor Day Tree Planting on CSU’s Historic Oval

On April 20, the Arbor Day Foundation visited the Colorado State University campus to lead a 2012 Arbor Day observance ceremony at the historic CSU Oval. The event also included the planting of 27 elms as part of the Oval Preservation Project.

The Oval at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
The Oval at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Last month, the foundation recognized the university as an official Tree Campus USA. CSU received the award for its excellent forestry practices and engagement of students and the community with urban tree care.

More than 100 CSU student volunteers planted 27 Valley Forge Elms in an effort to extend the Oval legacy.

“We are excited for this amazing opportunity to help preserve and restore the Oval,” said Jamie Dahl, experiential learning coordinator for the Colorado State Forest Service and leading member of the tree advisory committee. “It is a wonderful way to celebrate Arbor Day.” Read more

CSFS Accepting Landowners’ Proposals for Forest Legacy Program

The CSFS currently is accepting Forest Legacy Program proposals from Colorado landowners. The program authorizes the U.S. Forest Service, through the Colorado State Forest Service, to purchase permanent conservation easements on private forestlands to prevent those lands from being converted to non-forest uses.

The Forest Legacy Program helps prevent fragmentation of our forests and preserves natural vistas for all to enjoy.
The Forest Legacy Program helps prevent fragmentation of our forests and preserves natural vistas for all to enjoy.

The application deadline is July 20, 2012, for federal fiscal year 2014 funding.

An application with instructions is available on our Funding Opportunities web page.

The purpose of the Colorado Forest Legacy Program is to protect environmentally important private forest areas that are threatened by conversion 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.

Private forestlands that receive priority will:

  • support continued traditional forest uses
  • offer water resources, fish and wildlife habitat, and
  • ecological, scenic, cultural or recreational value.

Landowners who elect to participate in the program are required to follow a land 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 U.S. Forest Service. Forwarded proposals will then compete at a regional level; those selected at the regional level will compete nationally for funding.

CSFS Upgrades Fire Engine Fleet; Replaces Engine Burned in Yuma County Fire with Loaner

With firefighter and public safety in mind, the Colorado State Forest Service recently completed a four-year goal to upgrade 40 of the wildland fire engines in its 140-engine state fleet.

CSFS engine delivered to Wauneta Fire Protection District near Wray, Colo.
CSFS engine delivered to Wauneta Fire Protection District near Wray, Colo.

The newer engines offer improvements such as advanced safety equipment and lower-profile designs less prone to tipping.

One of these newer engines headed to a fire department in Yuma County, where the Heartstrong Fire burned 24,000 acres and injured three firefighters trying to escape from a stranded fire truck on March 18.

“Firefighter safety has always been our number-one concern,” said Matt O’Leary, lead mechanic at the CSFS fire equipment shop. “So our primary goals were to make sure these engines have better stability for fighting fires in rugged terrain, and to provide the best safety features we can.”

Since 2008, CSFS fire equipment shop mechanics in Fort Collins have worked to swap out dozens of wildland fire engines in the state fleet that had an older chassis or outdated equipment. Over the past year, the final 13 of 40 earmarked engines were replaced; the last of these are being delivered this March to fire protection districts around Colorado.

Upgrades Include Newer Chassis, Increased Stability

One of the most significant improvements is the replacement of dump truck-sized, 6×6 Type-4 engines with newer models offering a low-profile 880-gallon water tank design that drops the vehicle’s center of gravity and greatly reduces rollover risk on rough terrain.

The newer engines also have automatic transmissions, air-assist power steering, three-point seat belts and better braking systems. Additionally, the water pumps on the engines run on diesel instead of unleaded gasoline, allowing them to draw fuel from the main tank.

Many of the smaller, pickup-sized Type-6 engines in the state fleet also were swapped out to replace an aging 1967 chassis with newer Chevrolet and Ford truck chassis. One of these replacement engines recently arrived at the Western Fremont Fire Protection District in Coaldale.

“Our engine desperately needed to be replaced,” said John Walker, Western Fremont’s fire chief. He said the most important upgrade to the new vehicle is the addition of side-discharge water nozzles. Water now can be sprayed from both sides of the moving vehicle, rather than from a hand-held hose at the rear of the engine. This allows the engine to lay down a “wet line” as it drives across the path of an oncoming fire, which works well in grasses and other light fuels.

“A wet line can help reinforce and widen other fuelbreaks, such as roads,” Walker said. “Having these new nozzles is quicker, more efficient and safer than putting firefighters on foot in front of a fire.”

Federal Program Makes Engines Available

Jakob Bonser fabricates and overhauls a fire engine.
Jakob Bonser fabricates and overhauls a fire engine.

To build and maintain an engine fleet in Colorado, the CSFS fire equipment shop obtains retired vehicles through the Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) Program. The program allows the CSFS to acquire used vehicles from the Department of Defense and other federal entities, which become property of the U.S. Forest Service and are loaned to rural fire departments.

Together, the CSFS and USFS absorb nearly all costs of the engine fleet program to ensure that fire departments around the state have the necessary equipment to fight fires. The CSFS fire equipment shop converts the vehicles to functional fire engines and provides ongoing major vehicle maintenance on the fleet. Recipient fire departments are only required to contribute $200 annually to help cover travel costs for CSFS fire shop mechanics, who must complete annual inspections on the vehicles.

Starting with the chassis of a retired military vehicle, CSFS mechanics O’Leary, Nate Taggatz, Paul Rodriguez, Jakob Bonser, Kevin Podvin and Reed Hanlon first perform a full-scale overhaul of the vehicle at the CSFS State Office in Fort Collins. They replace hoses, belts, brakes, fluids, filters and shocks. They then make necessary modifications, such as mounting a low-profile water tank and attaching a pump, hose reel and tool boxes before delivering the refurbished vehicle to its new home.

O’Leary says it takes about six weeks to build a new fire engine.

Engines Benefit Fire Departments All Over Colorado

From Yuma County in the northeast to Montezuma County in the southwest, CSFS fleet engines are made available to fire departments throughout Colorado.

“We use this vehicle and one other CSFS Type-4 on a variety of fire incidents,” said Erik Johnson, fire chief at the Tallahassee Volunteer Fire Department in Fremont County, who received one of the upgraded engines last October. “They fit very well into our current fleet of fire engines, and give us a year-round tool to use with the limited budget we have.”

In 2012, the following fire departments/districts received or will receive an upgraded CSFS engine:

  • Wauneta Fire Protection District (FPD ) – Yuma County
  • Tallahassee Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) – Fremont County
  • Western Fremont FPD – Fremont County
  • Campo VFD – Baca County
  • Wiley FPD – Prowers County
  • South Fork FPD – Rio Grande County
  • Elbert FPD – Elbert County
  • Huerfano County FPD – Huerfano County
  • Stonewall FPD – Las Animas County
  • West Routt FPD – Routt County
  • North-West FPD – Park County
  • Mancos FPD – Montezuma County
  • Wet Mountain FPD – Custer County

Salida Couple Uses Permaculture to Raise Food, Rehabilitate Land

Do beavers make great teachers?
According to high-altitude gardening guru Sandy Cruz, they certainly do.

Cruz standing over a ponderosa pine seedling.
Cruz standing over a ponderosa pine seedling.

Not because they show others how to fell trees or build dams, but because they demonstrate a fundamental behavioral trait: they are driven to create an environment that is better for themselves and their neighbors.

On a two-acre site a few miles northwest of Salida, Colo., Cruz and her partner, Gene Tkatschenko, have spent the past year working their land using the principles of an increasingly popular practice called permaculture design. Their ultimate goals include providing sustainable food and shade, and conserving water for the benefit of themselves, their neighbors and the arid local environment.

“We’re looking to regenerate a disturbed area so that it’s healthy and thriving,” Cruz said.

The Art and Science of Permaculture

Cruz and Tkatschenko readily compare permaculture practitioners to beavers because of the mammals’ vital role in streamside ecosystems. When beavers chomp down trees and dam up streams, their efforts benefit themselves and the many other organisms around them through habitat alteration and increased food availability. Cruz says that the beaver’s role demonstrates that co-existence and cooperation are more important in a natural setting than Darwinian competition.

Cruz utilizes drawings to visualize project goals.
Cruz utilizes drawings to visualize project goals.

“Permaculture design shows us how we can put together communities where everyone is cooperating, not competing,” Cruz said. She explains that with permaculture, various plants, animals, fungi and other organisms are encouraged to work together with humans for the mutual benefit of all.

Permaculture originated in Australia in the 1970s. The word is derived from blending “permanent” and “agriculture,” though Cruz says “perennial agriculture” is a more apt description. The practice requires imitating nature to achieve a level of sustainable self-reliance. Specific principles guide the permaculture process, such as producing no waste, using renewable resources, minimizing water loss and obtaining a crop yield. Cruz says that the no-till, eco-friendly system is gaining ground not only in Colorado, but throughout the world.

“The practice applies larger ecosystem concepts and processes to small-scale food production, which can be a great tool for educating the public about how interrelated our actions are with changes in our environment,” said Megan Sweeney, forester at the Colorado State Forest Service Salida District.

Over the past year, Sweeney has helped Cruz select and purchase more than 300 CSFS seedling trees and shrubs for use in her permaculture garden. Planted between two parallel fencerows surrounding Cruz’s property are CSFS trees and shrubs that grow well at 7,200 feet. In addition to providing food, the eventual living fence will block wind and enhance wildlife habitat.

Cruz has spent the last four decades learning firsthand about strategies for high-elevation permaculture. Before moving to Salida in 2011, she rebuilt a cabin west of Boulder and created the original demonstration site for High Altitude Permaculture – an organization she founded to teach courses on the practice. That site, located 2,000 feet higher in elevation than Salida, has thrived over the past few decades. Despite several years of neglect, it recently has been yielding what Cruz calls “bumper crops” of Nanking cherries and chokecherries. Her new Salida property will now serve as a second demonstration site for teaching others about permaculture.

Building Soil, Planting Trees: The First Goals

Straw bales that provide temporary windbreaks are eventually used as a component of organic mulch.
Straw bales that provide temporary windbreaks are eventually used as a component of organic mulch.

Before achieving sustainability, Tkatschenko says their first goal is to regenerate the surrounding ecosystem by building up the soil and planting seedling trees and shrubs. To build up the soil, they created islands covered with heavy layers of mulch – an organic lasagna comprised of rotten hay, straw, leaves and manure. The mulch, in turn, absorbs and retains moisture for seedlings planted in the islands – a lot of seedlings.

An effective permaculture project may require a significant amount of planting. To make their project affordable, Cruz and Tkatschenko obtained most of their seedling trees and shrubs from the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery in Fort Collins.

The nursery provides low-cost seedling trees and shrubs to landowners who agree to use them for conservation purposes, and delivers the orders throughout Colorado each spring. The CSFS has even prepared a cookbook with recipes to utilize the fruits of nursery-grown shrubs. CSFS foresters usually help landowners with tree species selection, planting techniques and layout plans, but Sweeney said that Cruz and Tkatschenko already had the knowledge necessary to create a successful, productive planting.

“I toured their garden last year and was fascinated with the concept and what they were able to grow,” said Sweeney. She, Cruz and Tkatschenko all agree the couple has had tremendous success with seedling survival rates; they estimate that 95 percent of their plantings survived the first year.

This year, Tkatschenko said they will plant cover crops – perennial plants that handle poor soil conditions well, such as blue grama grass and milk vetch – between the mulched islands. These crops will increase the biomass that supports healthier soils; as the plants mature, dead plant matter gradually blends into the soil, improving the growing environment.

They also will soon plant 30 piñon pines to block wind and serve as a future source of pine nuts. The nuts will supplement yields from the hundreds of other fruit- or nut-bearing CSFS seedlings they have already planted, including Nanking cherry, buffaloberry, golden currant and caragana – a drought-tolerant, edible legume that doubles as a nitrogen fixer. They have even planted food crops from other nurseries, including plums, chokecherries and apricots, which for now are dwarfed by stacks of straw bales that shelter them from the elements.

Non-fruiting trees also are pivotal to the success of their site. On the west side of the property, to help an existing stand of Siberian elms block out the prevailing wind and afternoon sun, the couple has planted ponderosa pine seedlings from the CSFS Nursery that eventually will enhance the natural windbreak.

Additionally, trees planted around most of the property are intended to create a “shelter belt” – a microclimate more moderate and moist than outside weather conditions. Cruz hopes to inspire landowners throughout the Upper Arkansas Valley to plant windbreaks, potentially mitigating the local climate of sparse moisture and harsh winds.

Adding Chickens and Bees to the Mix

CSFS seedlings in the chicken run.
CSFS seedlings in the chicken run.

Cruz said their current focus is to build the soil and care for the recently planted trees and shrubs until they are established.

Cruz and Tkatschenko also plan to build solar greenhouses for four-season growing, and to establish bee colonies to provide honey and encourage pollination.

Although starting up a permaculture project may seem daunting, many resources are available for assistance. Cruz teaches workshops and eight-month design courses in Boulder and Salida, and a good website for information specifically about high-altitude permaculture is available at http://hialtpc.org.


Still Time to Purchase Seedlings for 2012

The CSFS seedling tree program is designed to encourage Colorado farmers, ranchers and rural landowners to plant seedling trees for conservation purposes.

Approximately 5,000 Coloradans plant CSFS seedling trees each year to:

  • create windbreaks
  • reforest after wildfire
  • enhance wildlife habitat
  • protect livestock
  • and achieve other conservation goals.

The CSFS Nursery, located in Fort Collins, currently sells more than 40 species of tree and shrub seedlings.

Colorado landowners may still have time to purchase seedlings before the CSFS makes springtime deliveries to 17 districts around the state, but deadlines vary by district. Seedling orders also are available for pick-up year-round at the Fort Collins Nursery. Landowners interested in purchasing the seedlings should contact their local CSFS district office or the CSFS Nursery at (970) 491-8429.

Durango Teacher Receives National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator Award

Project Learning Tree (PLT), the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation, named Lu Boren one of five 2012 National PLT Outstanding Educators. Boren is a middle school science teacher at St. Columba School in Durango, Colo.

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Lu Boren, science teacher at St. Columba School in Durango.

She will be honored at PLT’s 26th International Coordinators’ Conference, in Deadwood, South Dakota, on May 14-17.

Boren teaches earth science, chemistry, physics, life science and other subjects to sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students.

Boren also works closely with state and federal natural resource agencies to develop and present localized curriculum for science teachers in Colorado’s four corners region using PLT activities on topics such as forest management, fire ecology in native ecosystems, and watershed health. She was honored as Colorado’s Outstanding PLT Educator in 2009.

Every year PLT provides more than 30,000 educators with the tools and on-the-ground training they need to incorporate environmental education and service-learning into their curriculum.

PLT activities use trees and forests as “windows” on the world to help teachers strengthen their teaching of core subjects, take their students outdoors to learn, and grow stewardship in the next generation.

PLT’s Outstanding Educators are selected for their commitment to environmental education, their exemplary use of PLT and their exceptional teaching skills.

More information about Colorado’s PLT Program.

CSU Designated an Official Tree Campus USA

Colorado State University has been honored by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota Motor North America, Inc., for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and communities in conversation about urban tree care.

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The CSU Administration Building and Oval.

CSU is now an official Tree Campus USA.

To become a 2011 Tree Campus USA, CSU was required to demonstrate that it will ensure the protection and maintenance of the campus’ urban forest, reduce hazardous tree risks to public safety, and maintain a sustainable campus forest through tree species diversity and best management practices.

The university joins more than 150 American colleges and universities recognized by the program.

“This is an opportunity to connect our students to their urban and community forests. We hope it will lead to more hands-on learning, and help us educate the campus community about the many benefits of our trees,” said Jamie Dahl, the CSFS experiential learning coordinator.

CSU’s New Tree Advisory Committee

Dahl is the leading member of CSU’s new tree advisory committee. Committee members include CSU Facilities Management and Forest and Rangeland Stewardship staff, as well as the Fort Collins City Forester, a student representative, CSFS Fort Collins District personnel and other CSFS staff.

CSU attained the five Tree Campus USA standards for sustainable campus forestry, including the establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree care plan, an official Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

Arbor Day Foundation to Visit Campus

On April 20, the Arbor Day Foundation will visit campus to lead a 2012 Arbor Day observance ceremony at the CSU Oval, which will include the planting of 27 American elms as part of the Oval Preservation Project. Details about the celebration and related volunteer opportunities will soon be available.

“We are extremely pleased with this recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation. It both recognizes a history of excellent urban forestry practices by the Outdoor Services Group of Facilities Management, and the commitment of Colorado State University to enhance those practices in the future,” said Fred Haberecht, assistant director of landscaping and planning with the CSU Facilities Management Department. His staff is responsible for the more than 4,500 trees on the main campus, as well as thousands of trees on CSU’s satellite campuses.

“Your entire campus community should be proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Mary Widhelm, program manager for the Arbor Day Foundation, in an email to the committee members. “Your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at Colorado State University contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all.”

CSFS Names New Deputy State Forester

The Colorado State Forest Service has named Joe Duda its new deputy state forester for support services. As deputy state forester, Duda will serve as and represent the state forester when the state forester is unavailable.

Joe Duda is the new CSFS deputy state forester for support services.
Joe Duda is the new CSFS deputy state forester for support services.

He also will represent the CSFS to partner agencies, government officials and diverse constituent groups, and is responsible for providing leadership to the agency in the areas of information technology, personnel and training, and administration.

“Joe brings 35 years of extensive industry experience and forestry expertise to the position, and we’re excited to have him serving as our new deputy state forester,” said Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service.

For the last decade, Duda served as the CSFS Forest Management Division supervisor. During that time, he led the agency in its cooperative efforts with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct annual aerial insect and disease surveys. Since 2002, he also has led development of the annual CSFS forest health report, and in 2009 and 2010, he facilitated development of the Colorado Forest Action Plan, which is used to guide decisions about forest management.

Duda’s prior professional forestry experience includes work in the private sector as a regional timber manager. He has a degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University.

The Colorado State Forest Service is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. The non-regulatory agency provides landowners with technical forestry assistance and outreach via 17 district offices located throughout Colorado.

Report Highlights Need to Address Bark Beetle Aftermath on Private Land

According to the Colorado State Forester, the aftermath of the mountain pine beetle epidemic will require as much attention as the outbreak itself – including attention from private landowners.

The forest health report provides a comprehensive overview of forest insect and disease concerns in the state.
The forest health report provides a comprehensive overview of forest insect and disease concerns in the state.

On Feb. 22, Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, spoke at the annual Joint Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Hearing at the State Capitol.

Risk of Millions of Dead Trees Falling

Jahnke said that although active mountain pine beetle infestations impacted fewer acres in Colorado last year than in any year since 2006, private landowners and public land managers now must deal with the real risk of millions of dead trees falling, and capitalize on the chance to prepare regenerating forests to be healthier than their predecessors.

“The risk of falling trees remains a real concern to life and property on private land,” Jahnke said. “Likewise, addressing general forest health in the wake of a bark beetle epidemic is a responsibility shared by public land managers and private landowners.”

Report Provides Comprehensive Overview

The 2011 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests, released by the Colorado State Forest Service at the Joint Ag Committee hearing, provides a comprehensive overview of forest insect and disease concerns in the state.

The 11th annual report indicates that all-species tree mortality from mountain pine beetles has declined for the third consecutive year, but that the epidemic continues to expand in ponderosa and lodgepole pine forests along the northern Front Range.

The 2011 report also includes a special section on the riparian forests of the Eastern Plains, and describes how spruce beetles continue to impact mature Engelmann spruce forests in high-elevation areas of Colorado – impacting 262,000 acres last year. The largest outbreak, centered in the San Juan Mountains and upper Rio Grande Basin, previously was limited to remote public lands. Yet the beetles now pose a threat to spruce forests on private land.

Loan Program Available to Forest Product Businesses in 15 Counties

Financial lending assistance for businesses that harvest, remove, utilize or market timber from beetle-killed stands and other forested areas is now available through a loan fund from the Upper Arkansas Area Development Corporation, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments – Northwest Loan Fund and the Colorado State Forest Service.

A forest products business in Colorado.
A forest products business in Colorado.

The Forest Business Loan Fund will provide community-based financial lending capital for timber and wood products businesses to expand their capacity to more economically remove and use timber, develop new market opportunities, and help address employment concerns in forest-based communities.

Funds will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no closing date to apply, but applications are encouraged to be submitted by April 30 for timely consideration.

For a complete list of eligible counties or for more information, visit CoWood’s Forest Business Loan Fund on our website or contact the CSFS at (970) 247-5250.

Funding Available for Forest Restoration Projects

Colorado landowners and communities wanting to protect forested areas from severe wildfire or other forest health concerns that ultimately impact water supplies may be eligible for grant funding from the Colorado State Forest Service.

The Buffalo Creek Ranch Forest Restoration Project in Jackson County.
The Buffalo Creek Ranch Forest Restoration Project in Jackson County.

The CSFS is accepting proposals for the Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program, which helps fund projects that demonstrate a community-based approach to forest restoration.

Proposals must address the protection of water supplies or related infrastructure, as well as the restoration of forested watersheds. Projects are encouraged to utilize forest products, and where feasible, involve the Colorado Youth Corps Association or an accredited Colorado Youth Corps to provide labor.

Projects also should mitigate threats that affect watershed health, such as the build-up of wildland fuels that increase the risk for a severe wildfire. Large, intense wildfires negatively impact watersheds through increases in runoff and erosion, diminished water quality and accelerated loss of snowpack.

“This program encourages local stakeholders to work together to develop forest restoration proposals that address diverse forest health challenges, including community and water-supply protection, ecological restoration, forest product utilization and wildfire risk reduction,” said Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the CSFS.

Colorado landowners and anyone with legal authority to contract for work on relevant properties are eligible to compete for grant funding. 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, including federal funds.

Proposed projects must be located in communities with a CSFS-approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

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 Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program are available on the CSFS Funding Opportunities page.

U.S. Forest Service and CSFS Announce 2011 Aerial Forest Health Survey Results

On January 31, the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service released the results of the annual aerial insect and disease survey in Colorado, which indicate that the most significant forest health concern continues to be the spread of the mountain pine beetle.

The most significant forest health concern continues to be the spread of the mountain pine beetle. Photo by W.M. Ciesla
The most significant forest health concern continues to be the spread of the mountain pine beetle. Photo by W.M. Ciesla

Although an additional 140,000 acres of tree mortality were detected across the state, the epidemic has slowed down in many areas. The 2011 survey results bring the total infestation to 3.3 million acres in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996.

Read more in the news release

Aerial survey maps and related materials are available on the USFS Region 2 website.

CSFS Accepting Nominations for 2011 Outstanding Forest Stewardship

In October 2011, Don and Mari McDavid of Tabernash, Colo., were recognized as the 2010 Outstanding Forest Steward of the Year.

Outstanding Forest Steward recipients, Don and Mari McDavid, with Jeff Jahnke, CSFS director (left) and Jacob McCarthy, CSFS Granby District forester (right).
Outstanding Forest Steward recipients, Don and Mari McDavid, with Jeff Jahnke, CSFS director (left) and Jacob McCarthy, CSFS Granby District forester (right).

Don McDavid is a Master Gardener, Tree Farmer and Forest Ag Program participant who also constructed a personal nursery and shade house to propagate his own seedling stock.

Nominations are currently being accepted for 2011 outstanding forest stewardship. If you know of a landowner who has a forest stewardship plan and is actively managing their forest and promoting forest stewardship for greater public awareness, please consider submitting a nomination for the individual(s).

 

Forest Biomass Use Work Group Submits Final Report to General Assembly

On Jan. 1, the Colorado Forest Biomass Use Work Group submitted its final report to the General Assembly on how to promote forest health, woody biomass energy development and viable markets that encourage active, sustainable forest management in our state.

A viable forest products industry encourages active, sustainable forest management.
A viable forest products industry encourages active, sustainable forest management.

During the 2011 legislative session, the Colorado General Assembly passed Senate Bill 11-267: The Forest Health Act of 2011. This legislation created the Colorado Forest Biomass Use Work Group convened by the CSFS.

The work group consisted of forestry, economics and alternative energy professionals selected from the public, private and non-profit sectors; the CSFS provided staff assistance.

Main Objectives of the Colorado Forest Biomass Use Work Group were to:

  1. Identify barriers pertaining to the creation, development and sustainability of our forest products industry, including efforts to develop forest energy.
  2. Develop recommendations to improve the efficacy of the CSFS with regards to managing for a forest energy industry, including but not limited to compiling and disseminating information, participating in the development of policy and executing and improving several forest management tools.

This report compiles the efforts of the work group, and:

  • highlights problems with accessing and moving forest biomass material in Colorado;
  • focuses on financing and planning issues; and
  • details problems with current forest energy-related policies and utilization efforts.

Colorado Forest Biomass Use Work Group Members

  • Joe Duda, Colorado State Forest Service
  • Doug Robotham, Colorado Department of Natural Resources
  • Rob Davis, Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council
  • Stacey Simms, Colorado Governor’s Energy Office
  • Dave Ferrill, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade
  • Rebecca Lim, Colorado Public Utilities Commission
  • John Stulp, Compact Negotiations/Interbasin Compact Committee
  • Susan Ford, US Forest Service
  • Dan Bihn, Bihn Systems, energy/natural resources
  • Norm Birtcher, Western Excelsior Corporation, forest products industry
  • John Scahill, U.S. Department of Energy (retired), biomass technology industry
  • Phil Kastelic, Colorado Forest and Energy, biomass technology industry
  • Joe Pandy, Mountain Parks Electric, utility infrastructure
  • Tim Sullivan, The Nature Conservancy, forest ecology

The Report on the Implementation of SB11-267: The Forest Health Act of 2011 assumes a certain degree of familiarity and experience with forest biomass and forest energy.

For those interested in additional background information, please read Where Wood Works in Colorado (4.9 MB PDF).

Green-Up the New Year – Recycle Your Tree

Trees are a valuable renewable resource, and recycling holiday trees naturally contributes to the process of giving these evergreens a second life.

Chipping the trees for mulch or compost is a common recycling practice. Many community recycling programs use the mulch in flowerbeds and around trees, and the wood chips also provide natural material for walkways and trails. Some programs allow residents to pick up the free mulch in the spring for personal landscaping purposes.

Many recycling centers and county landfills chip holiday trees for mulch.
Many recycling centers and county landfills chip holiday trees for mulch.

To prepare your tree for recycling, remove all ornaments, lights, tinsel, hooks, nails, wire, garland and any wrapping used to transport the tree. Flocked and artificial trees are not accepted at drop-off sites.

To locate a tree recycling program in your county, please visit the Recycle Your Tree website or contact your local recycling center or landfill.