History of the Colorado State Forest

The Colorado State Forest was officially established on December 2, 1938, with President Franklin Roosevelt's issuance of a patent to the state of Colorado for 70,980 acres.

In 1876, after three efforts at statehood, Colorado was granted admission into the Union. Upon admission, the federal government granted, in trust to the state of Colorado, approximately 4.5 million acres of land for the specific purpose of generating revenue to support state schools. (Congress granted lands to all western states for use in establishing and maintaining public schools.) In the original grant, Colorado received sections 16 and 36 in every township.

The resulting pattern of state school land provides the state with incentives to pursue land exchanges and sales or exchanges of "in-holdings" of state parcels within federal lands for contiguous blocks of federal land. The Colorado State Forest (CSF) was created through such an exchange.

The CSF was officially established on December 2, 1938, with President Franklin Roosevelt's issuance of a patent to the state of Colorado for 70,980 acres. The property was the product of a land exchange between the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners (SLB) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The land exchange was initiated in 1934 with the SLB offer to trade in-holdings for school sections 16 and 36 within selected USFS boundaries in Colorado for a contiguous parcel of land.

The CSF is a unique piece of state trust land with its own enabling legislation that established the name "Colorado State Forest." It also specifically called for the SLB to "provide for and extend the practice of...forestry" on the CSF. The SLB continued to manage the multiple uses that were in the area when it was acquired. Grazing, recreation and forestry have all been traditional uses of the CSF. In 1971, Colorado State Parks began managing recreation through an agreement with the SLB. Grazing on the forest is managed through a grazing association.


The Colorado State Forest has a long history of forest management. An extensive harvesting program on the forest was overseen by Land Board foresters from about 1940 to 1970. The timber harvesting program supported several large logging camps, including the Bockman Lumber Camp. This was the largest logging camp in Colorado history and more than 100 men and their families once lived and worked at this camp. The harvesting peaked in 1955 when almost 10 million board feet was cut on the forest. The level and visibility of the harvesting activity created some public controversy by the mid-1960's, and by the early 1970's the last of the lumber camps had closed. The State Land Board contracted with the Colorado State Forest Service in 1986 to manage the forest resources on the state forest.


Historical Photographs

Click on an image below to show enlarged version

1940's snow
A little bit of snow that fell on the forest in 1949

Entrance to the old Colorado State Forest Headquarters

The SLB and CSFS discuss the state forest in 1967

Log truck and saw logs - ca. 1941 - 1942

State Forest Headquarters in Gould - May 1960

Winter in the Forest

Vintage log truck

Vintage snowcat

Pack string

German POWs building picnic tables and benches

Everett Lee (first State Forester) and his wife

A "tiehack" making railroad ties
pack string
Early tree-felling practices

Current Photographs

View of Nokhu Crags

Closeup of Nokhu Crags

Spring in the Forest

Nokhu Crags in Spring

Typical winter snow at Colorado State Forest Headquarters

Harvesting equipment

Horse logging

Portable saw mill at Bockman Lumber Camp

Roller-chopper preparing harvested area for new tree growth

New bridge protects water quality in high-use area

Kelly Lake

Rainbow over the Colorado State Forest Office

Aerial view of Michigan Lake

Clearcuts with new forest in foreground; result of clearcut like the one in background

Native orchids

View from Gould Mountain

South American Natural Resource Managers' tour of the forest

View of Lake Agnes