2010 Feature Stories

2010 Features

CSU President’s Office Celebrates the Season with Children

This holiday season, a native Douglas fir tree graces the hallway outside the President’s Office at CSU.

This Douglas-fir is a product of fuels hazard reduction on CSU's Borden Memorial Forest. From the Colorado State Forest Service

Colorado State Forest Service Fort Collins District employees recently cut six Douglas-fir trees at the Borden Memorial Forest located west of Fort Collins; the trees will grace local CSFS offices, the Warner College of Natural Resources and the hallway outside the CSU President’s Office this holiday season.

On Dec. 16, Provost and Executive Vice Pres. Rick Miranda, and Pres. Tony Frank via cell phone, welcomed children from the CSU Early Childhood Center to celebrate the holidays and admire the now brightly decorated native fir at the President’s Office.

A CSFS forester cuts a Douglas-fir at the Borden Memorial Forest.

The children arrived in festive attire for the occasion and sang Up on the Rooftop, Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel and other popular holiday carols. Afterward, the youngsters and their parents joined CSU staff for cookies and beverages.

The Douglas-fir trees were grown by nature on the Borden Memorial Forest, a 70-acre private forest and certified Tree Farm. Tom Borden owned and managed the forest; he later donated the land to CSU to be used as a living classroom. Selectively harvesting trees reduces hazardous fuels on the property.

On April 22, several of northern Colorado’s most recognized forestry-related organizations hosted a memorial tree planting in honor of Borden, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 82. As state forester for 25 years, he was the longest-tenured director of the CSFS. A young Douglas-fir, obtained from Borden’s own forest, was planted in an area on campus known as “Sherwood Forest” near the Natural Resources Building.

For more information about Colorado’s Forests, we encourage you to explore our website.

Grant Funds Available for Forest Restoration, Watershed Protection Projects

Colorado landowners and communities that want to protect forested watersheds may be eligible for grant funding from the Colorado State Forest Service. The CSFS will accept proposals for the Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program, which helps fund projects that demonstrate a community-based approach to forest restoration. Proposals are due to the CSFS by Jan. 26, 2011.

In 2010, the Upper Fraser Forest Health Project in the Winter Park area used Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant funds to manage 135 acres of forest.

Project proposals must address the protection of water supplies or related infrastructure, as well as the restoration of forested watersheds.

“This program focuses on mitigating threats that affect watersheds at risk, as identified in the Colorado Statewide Forest Resource Assessment,” said Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the CSFS, a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. “Forest management projects funded by these grants will help protect Colorado forests and enhance the public benefits they provide, ultimately protecting water quality and quantity.”

The Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program encourages diverse local stakeholders to work together to develop forest restoration proposals that address diverse forest health challenges such as community and water-supply protection, ecological restoration, forest product utilization and wildfire risk reduction.

Severe wildfires have the potential to negatively impact watersheds through significant increases in runoff and erosion, diminished water quality and accelerated loss of snowpack. For example, the 2002 Hayman Fire that burned across the watershed of the South Platte River continues to cost Denver Water millions of dollars on sediment removal projects and related activities. The projects have been necessary to restore storage capacity and water quality in reservoirs downstream of the burned area.

Colorado landowners and anyone else 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.

In 2009, forest management work was completed on the Grand Junction Watershed using Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant funds.

The Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program was established in 2007. Based on the availability of severance tax funds, continued funding of up to $1 million annually has been authorized for the next two state fiscal years.

An interdisciplinary technical advisory panel, convened by the CSFS in partnership with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, will review project applications this winter. The state forester will make final selections and notify successful applicants in spring 2011.

All grant applications are due by 4 p.m. Jan. 26, 2011. Applications and additional information about the Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program are available at local CSFS district offices and on our Funding Opportunities web page.

2010 CSFS Recovery Act Grants Recap

In Nov. 2009, the CSFS awarded economic stimulus funds to several organizations to implement high-priority forest restoration and fuels mitigation projects that would create or retain jobs for Coloradans.

A crew for a Coalition for the Upper South Platte project chips slash during a 2010 fuels mitigation project.

The 2010 federal fiscal year grant progress report indicates that these organizations have employed more than 340 Coloradans in forestry-related positions. In addition, the funds helped many forested communities develop and implement Community Wildfire Protection Plans, improve forest health issues and revitalize local forest wood product businesses.

Read more in the report

Proper Selection, Care Cuts Holiday Tree Fire Hazard

Millions of Americans harvest hand-picked holiday trees from snowy forests or woodlots each December, while many more purchase pre-cut evergreens from retailers. These decorative, aromatic icons are sure to boost holiday spirit, but can be deadly when safety precautions are not taken.

Decorated trees can boost holiday spirit; proper tree care can prevent potential holiday fire hazard.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, holiday trees cause approximately 250 structural fires annually in the United States, resulting in an average of 14 deaths, 26 injuries and nearly $14 million in property damage.

“Most of these fires probably are due to a lack of tree care. Well-watered trees are far less likely to ignite and cause a fire than neglected trees with dry needles,” said Mike Hughes, assistant district forester with the Fort Collins District of the Colorado State Forest Service. For years, Hughes helped ensure that holiday trees cut by the CSFS and destined for the Governor’s Mansion, Colorado State University President’s Office and State Capitol stayed fresh and green for delivery.

The CSFS recommends the following holiday tree safety tips:

  • Select a fresh tree. If you don’t cut your own tree, make sure the tree you purchase is still fresh. Needles should not drop off readily when you run your hands over them or shake the tree trunk.
  • Saw an inch or more off the base. A few hours after being cut, trees start to dry out at the base, preventing the absorption of water. After sawing a cookie off the tree trunk, immediately submerge the base in water.
  • Locate the tree in a cool area. Holiday trees should not be placed near fireplaces, heat sources or areas with extended direct sunlight.
  • Minimize ignition risks. Keep open flames away from trees and don’t overload nearby circuits by plugging too many lights into a wall socket.
  • Water your tree often. Make sure the waterline never drops below the base. During the first few days at home, this probably means adding water twice daily.
  • Monitor the tree. If a holiday tree dries out faster than expected, it should be removed from the home.

Hughes said that in addition to regular tap water, many homemade solutions are effective for keeping your tree fresh. The following holiday tree-watering solution has been used by the CSFS and others for many years and is intended to increase absorption:

  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 2 ounces liquid bleach
  • 2 pinches Epsom salts
  • ½ teaspoon borax
  • 1 teaspoon chelated iron (available at garden shops)

Mix and cool the solution, keeping some on hand to regularly fill the tree stand.

“Taking these simple precautions can also help ensure a beautiful tree throughout the holiday season,” Hughes said.

Joint Fire Science Program Provides Funding to Promote Forest Health

A grant from the national Joint Fire Science Program will improve forest conditions in Colorado and southern Wyoming by bridging the gap between forest management and forest science professionals in the Southern Rocky Mountain Ecoregion (SRME).

Southern Rocky Mountain Ecoregion Consortium logo

The funding will allow the newly formed Southern Rocky Mountain Ecoregion Consortium to engage land managers, scientists and community leaders in dialogue and on-the-ground learning opportunities focused on the role of fire in forest health. The Colorado State Forest Service is an SRME Consortium partner.

“Fostering communication between land managers, landowners and the research community is essential in our efforts to improve forest health for present and future generations, and the SRME Consortium provides the mechanism to make this happen,” said Jeff Jahnke, State Forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.

Read more in the news release.

Seedling Tree Applications Now Available

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 delivery early next spring.

Native seedling trees and shrubs are grown at the CSFS Nursery.

Coloradans who own two or more acres of land and are interested in conservation goals such as creating natural windbreaks, improving wildlife habitat or reforesting properties impacted by wildfire are eligible to purchase the low-cost seedlings.

“Planting 100 or more mature trees can get very expensive, but the same number of seedlings is quite affordable,” said CSFS Nursery Manager Randy Moench.

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 to meet conservation goals.

A natural windbreak in Colorado.

Seedling trees have many uses and benefits, including:

  • Wind and snow control;
  • Enhanced wildlife habitat;
  • Livestock protection;
  • Increased property values;
  • Energy conservation;
  • Carbon sequestration;
  • Reduced utility bills;
  • Noise and dust abatement; and
  • Reduced soil erosion.

Mountain landowners interested in reforesting properties affected by bark beetle infestation or recent wildfires are eligible to purchase seedlings to replant a wide variety of native trees, including lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine.

To purchase seedling trees from the CSFS, landowners must possess two or more acres of land, use seedlings for conservation purposes only and agree not to use seedlings for landscaping or resale. Moench said interested landowners should order as soon as possible, while all tree and shrub species are still available.

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

CSFS Grant Helps Aguilar Forestry Business Get Back on Track

ForestWise, LLC, and its predecessor, M S Forest, in Aguilar, Colo., have provided forest management, tree thinning and reclamation services in southern Colorado for more than 20 years. The company also has implemented many Natural Resource Conservation Service wildlife and grazing improvement projects on private land, and is a member of the Colorado Forest Products program.

A ForestWise crew member operates equipment that loads cut logs on a trailer.

A saleable product is key to offsetting the costs of cutting trees. As the economy fell, so did the value of the harvested trees. Over the past 2 years, like so many businesses in Las Animas County, M S Forest, LLC, was forced to drastically reduce its workforce and cut the pay of remaining employees.

When the Colorado State Forest Service released its American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Requests for Proposals, Scott and Mary Canda, then-owners of the company, were faced with the prospect of losing the business they worked so hard to build.

The location of the successful ARRA project proposal submitted by the company was once part of a Spanish land grant that encompassed the Purgatoire River watershed. Within the watershed lies North Lake, the main municipal water source for the city of Trinidad, Colo. The main purpose of the 750-acre project is to improve the fire resiliency of the land by reducing the amount of live fuel available to a fire. Work is in progress on Colorado Division of Wildlife property, and will expand to include private and municipal land.

Recently, the Canda's son Scott, daughter Kassie and son-in-law Jacob Carley bought the company, changing its name to ForestWise. “We are extremely grateful and appreciative,” said Kassie Carley. “This ARRA funding will allow us to hire new crews and resume full compensation of our existing crew. As a result, our company will have the ability to do more forest restoration and fuels mitigation projects, and ultimately hire even more workers. The funding for this project will benefit not only our company and the people we hire, but also the local economy and most of all – the land.” To date, the company has retained nine employees and hired three with ARRA funds.

Cory Miller is a sawyer for ForestWise, LLC. He previously worked for the company, but was part of the 2007 layoff. After losing his job, Cory found work as a farm/ranch hand in southern New Mexico. Near the end of 2009, he was released from his job. The timing could not have been better for ForestWise. They were happy to have the skilled sawyer back on the crew. Although Cory knows how to operate some of the equipment, he enjoys having a chain saw in his hand to trim limbs off the cut trees and cut tree trunks to specific lengths. He also has mechanical and welding skills.

Mike Mender, a commercial truck driver, is on the ForestWise crew.

Mike Mender is a commercial truck driver from Walsenburg, Colo. He also was part of the crew until 2007. He was able to find work in Colorado with a Texas-based trucking firm. He, too, found himself unemployed again in 2009. ForestWise heard he was seeking employment and with ARRA funds, the company was able to hire him.

Robert “Auggie” Franklin is the skidder operator. This specialized piece of logging equipment is used to transport trees out of the forest to an opening where the logs are sorted and loaded on trailers. Auggie worked as a sawyer and equipment operator for the company before the layoffs. After the layoffs, he moved to Raton, N.M., and worked on and off breaking horses for local ranchers. Fortunately, he was available to return to the company.

For more information about CSFS-funded projects made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), visit our recovery act web pages.

Colorado Environmental Film Festival in Golden, Nov. 4-6

The 5th Annual Colorado Environmental Film Festival will run from Nov. 4-6 at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. This year’s festival, one of the largest environmental film festivals between the East and West Coasts, features 45 films from six countries and 16 states; five productions are from Colorado.

Colorado Environmental Film Festival

Films range in length from two minutes to just under two hours, and cover a variety of topics including interactions between humans and wildlife, the impacts of climate change and the consequences of modern children removed from nature. Filmmakers range from a 12-year-old Wyoming boy to a Kenyan Masai warrior; some films are specifically geared toward children and families.

According to CEFF founder and co-director Shawna Crocker, the film festival provides exposure for independent films and informs the public about a wide variety of environmental issues. The ultimate goal is to awaken audience members to important environmental issues and inspire them to act.

“We’ll be presenting thought-provoking films that raise awareness about a variety of ecological, social and economic themes to provide an experience for our audiences that goes beyond passive film viewing,” said Crocker, state coordinator for Project Learning Tree, an educational program of the Colorado State Forest Service.

“Play Again,” which will be featured on opening night, documents the consequences of a childhood removed from nature by following six teenagers, who normally spend five to 15 hours a day in the virtual world, on their first wilderness adventure. The film’s producer, Meg Merrill, one of many filmmakers attending CEFF, will preside over a panel discussion with youth, educators and a school psychologist following the second screening of the film on Saturday.

“Unlike many other film festivals, CEFF provides an intimate setting that allows attendees unprecedented access to the filmmakers,” Crocker said.

Beginning in 2006 with only a handful of films and approximately 50 attendees, the film festival attracted 1,500 viewers in 2009 and is expected to surpass 2,000 viewers this year.

The film festival takes place at the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th St., Golden. Tickets cost $5 per session; each session includes two to four films. Sponsorship opportunities also are still available.

For a full schedule of films, tickets and more information, visit www.CEFF.net. Tickets also can be purchased at the door or at Denver, Lakewood and Boulder REI stores.

Colorado State Forester to Head National Association of State Foresters

Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, has been elected to serve as president of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). NASF also elected John Shannon, Arkansas State Forester, as its new vice president and West Virginia State Forester Randy Dye as its new treasurer; each will serve a 12-month term.

Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service.

NASF is a non-profit organization composed of the directors of forestry agencies in the states, territories and District of Columbia.

As director of the Colorado State Forest Service, a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, Jahnke leads statewide programs in wildfire prevention and mitigation, forest management, community forestry and conservation education.

“I look forward to leading the National Association of State Foresters in 2011, the International Year of Forests,” said Jahnke. “In the coming year, NASF will communicate outcomes from statewide forest resource assessments and strategies, build momentum for forestry priorities in the 2012 Farm Bill, and continue to advance initiatives based on our commitment to sustainability.”

Jahnke previously served as chair of the NASF Forest Fire Protection Committee, chair of the Council of Western State Foresters and as a member of the National Wildland Fire Leadership Council. In addition, he currently serves as co-lead of the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council, established by Gov. Bill Ritter through executive order in February 2008.

NASF seeks to discuss, develop, sponsor and promote programs and activities that advance the practice of sustainable forestry, the conservation and protection of forest lands and associated resources, and the establishment and protection of forests in the urban environment.

NASF also works with regional organizations, including the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters, the Southern Group of State Foresters, and the Council of Western State Foresters to support forest management practices and policies unique to the regional characteristics and needs of diverse forest resources in the United States.

For more information about NASF, visit www.stateforesters.org.

Additional information about the Colorado Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy is available on our website.

Fourmile Fire Canyon Recovery Efforts

Our thoughts are with the many Boulder County residents so severely impacted by the recent Fourmile Canyon Fire.

An area burned by the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire.

The Colorado State Forest Service Boulder District wants to help these private landowners as much as possible during the recovery and rehabilitation process.

As part of the post-fire rehabilitation efforts, the Colorado State Forest Service has taken an active role in the recently formed Fourmile Emergency Stabilization Team that was established to assess wildfire damage and make recommendations for on-the-ground rehabilitation and stabilization treatments. The CSFS also can help affected landowners by providing information about natural forest regeneration, reforestation, and vegetation and soil recovery.

For more information, contact the CSFS Boulder District.

In addition, landowners with one or more acres of land can obtain low-cost seedling trees for reforestation through the CSFS Seedling Tree Program.

For additional information, click on the following links:

CSFS Wildland Fire Fleet Always Ready

More than 40 Colorado State Forest Service personnel were directly involved in fighting the Sept. 2010 Fourmile Canyon and Reservoir Road fires on the northern Front Range. Several who repaired equipment on-site, staffed fire engines and supported aircraft operations were mechanics from the CSFS fire equipment shop.

Fire shop mechanics Matt O’Leary, Nate Taggatz, Jakob Bonser and Paul Rodriguez in front of a Type-4 engine. Shop personnel not pictured are Charlie Rossi, Jay Davis and Jill Olson.

Matt O’Leary, lead mechanic at the CSFS fire shop, was in charge of mandatory pre- and post-fire safety inspections on the hundreds of fire engines and tender trucks from every agency involved. Shop mechanic Nate Taggatz spent weeks on an engine protecting structures and patrolling the fire line. And others from the shop worked tirelessly, mixing fire retardant and loading it onto single-engine air tankers (SEATs) that flew out of the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport.

Of the more than 1,000 firefighters at the Fourmile Canyon Fire, O’Leary was one of only 13 officially recognized by the Type I National Incident Management Team, which awarded him for his outstanding efforts.

Despite the importance of their efforts during the fires, the CSFS mechanics know the bulk of wildland fire suppression work actually occurs before fires even start. And to ensure that Colorado’s rural fire departments are ready for the next blaze, the CSFS fire equipment shop constantly maintains a fleet of 140 wildland fire engines for fire departments throughout the state.

Making Engines Affordable

When a wildfire is reported in rural Colorado, the first firefighters on the scene usually are from smaller city or county departments. The initial attack role these fire departments play in fighting Colorado wildfires is significant, yet the budgets of these mostly volunteer organizations often are prohibitively low to allow for the provision and maintenance of fully equipped fire engines.

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 provides ongoing major vehicle maintenance on the fleet, also replacing vehicles as needed. 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.

Sergio Lopes, the CSFS aerial and ground fire equipment supervisor, said the locations of the 140 fleet vehicles are based on recommendations from CSFS districts, local fire department budgets and fire risk. For example, several state fleet engines that responded to the Fourmile Canyon Fire are based in Boulder County’s highly populated wildland-urban interface. On the other side of the state, Moffat County also needs multiple wildland fire engines, due to a high number of lightning strikes and impressive annual burned-acreage figures. Yet the county does not have the budget to maintain such a large fleet. Todd Wheeler, fire management officer for the Moffat County Sheriff’s Department, said that he and the 13 other firefighters who work for the county rely on the CSFS to maintain its five fire engines.

“Without these CSFS engines, the sheriff’s office could not afford the equipment necessary to help protect the citizens of Moffat County from wildfires,” Wheeler said. He said that he currently has an order in with the CSFS to build a smaller Type-6 engine to join his fleet of larger Type-4 engines.

CSFS Builds Fire Trucks from Start to Finish

A vehicle before CSFS mechanics rebuild it.

Lopes says that unlike many other states, the CSFS program builds fire engines from start to finish. Most other state agencies provide only the vehicles, and the fire agencies are responsible for adding a fire package and performing maintenance.

“We handle everything, from purchasing the vehicle chassis to sending a fully completed fire engine to its new position with a rural fire department,” Lopes said.

It takes about four weeks to build a fire truck. CSFS mechanics first perform a full-scale overhaul of a vehicle from its stockpile, replacing hoses, belts, brakes, fluids, filters and shocks. They then make necessary modifications to meet wildland firefighting needs and attach a state-owned fire package consisting of such components as a water tank, pump, hose reel and tool boxes. Finally, a Buena Vista prison crew paints the state fleet trucks their characteristic golden yellow color.

The same fleet vehicle after CSFS mechanics build it into a fire truck.

“These trucks are all ready to fight fire right out the door,” O’Leary said.

Better Vehicle Designs

The CSFS primarily builds dump truck-sized Type-4 engines that can deliver 1,000 gallons of water to the fire lines; they also can craft smaller Type-6 engines on full-size pickup chassis. Lopes says the CSFS Type-4 engines, which make up most of the engines in the state fleet, are unique in that they follow a design offering more balance and stability than typical large fire engines.

“We developed a new Type-4 engine design after firefighters regularly complained that standard truck designs were too top-heavy,” he said. “Our unique design offers a water tank that rests below the bed height, instead of above it, for a much lower center of gravity and greater stability.”

Wheeler says his firefighters and cooperating agencies in Moffat County, such as the Bureau of Land Management, have come to appreciate this innovative CSFS engine design, which performs well on the rugged terrain of northwest Colorado.

“We have found that CSFS engines outperform other engines because they are able to go places only hand crews are usually able to access,” Wheeler said.

The Hotchkiss Fire District also fights fires with one of the 140 fire engines in the CSFS fleet. Hotchkiss Fire Chief Doug Fritz, who currently is collaborating with the CSFS to build his district another truck, also has good things to say about his current CSFS-built engine.

“I think it’s the best wildland engine on the Western Slope,” Fritz said. “Our engine has even led bulldozers to fires. In the 15 years we’ve had it, it has saved more homes from wildfire than we can count.”

By the end of next year, the CSFS plans to replace all the Type-4 engines in the state fleet that still have the previous higher-profile design.

More than Routine Maintenance

Available to the CSFS fire division mechanics on-site at the state office are a repair garage, welding shop, fabrications area and machine shop, which allow them to maintain the state fleet and build new fire trucks. Yet the mechanics also regularly perform maintenance around the state at fire departments and on-scene at wildfires. The majority of CSFS mechanics are certified wildland firefighters who see action alongside other CSFS firefighters – providing an opportunity for insight into how the fire equipment they repair functions on the fire lines.

“It lets us see what works and what doesn’t,” said O’Leary, who often acts as an interagency fire equipment manager on large incidents throughout the West.

According to Butch Smith, the ground support unit leader for the Great Basin National Incident Management Team that managed the Fourmile Canyon and Reservoir Road fires, roughly 350 mandatory vehicle inspections were necessary prior to engaging the fires. Without the fast response provided by O’Leary and the CSFS fire equipment shop, Smith says the incident management team would have been in a bind.

“O’Leary and his crew were instrumental in helping our team serve the firefighters on the line,” Smith said. “I was very impressed with the Colorado State Forest Service fire personnel, who fought so hard to minimize damage to land and property.”

Transporting Firewood Dangerous for Colorado Forests

With fall fast approaching, firewood is on the minds of many Coloradans. Some will seek out a cord or two for winter heating, while others will load split wood into SUVs for Labor Day camping or early-autumn hunting trips.

Emerald ash borer. Photo by: David Cappaert.

Because of the immense impact bark beetles have had on Colorado forests, as well as the damage introduced pests are now causing in Eastern and Midwestern forests, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to be sure people are aware of the risks associated with moving firewood. The transportation of firewood is a common cause for the accidental introduction of harmful tree insects and diseases to new areas. Insects, fungi and diseases can hitch a ride on cut wood – from both living and dead trees – and are often hidden away under the bark.

“There are many insect and disease risks associated with moving firewood, from spreading native insects like mountain pine beetle around the state to introducing non-native insects from outside our borders,” said Sky Stephens, CSFS forest entomologist.

Stephens says some insects of primary concern that can be present in firewood include the emerald ash borer and gypsy moth – pests that have not yet impacted Colorado but are threats to its deciduous trees. She describes thousand cankers disease, which is already killing most of the black walnut trees in some urban Front Range communities, as another major concern related to moving firewood.

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

  • Always try to burn firewood at the location where you buy or cut it. Leave whatever wood you don’t burn.
  • Don’t ever bring wood into Colorado from other states, or vice-versa.
  • Ask firewood dealers questions about the origin of the wood.
  • If using firewood bundles for camping, buy from a local vendor. The best option is wood labeled with the Colorado Forest Products logo; at least 50 percent of this wood is certified to be from Colorado forests, and more than 65 vendors around the state participate in this program.
  • Learn to identify the symptoms of common pests in the type of wood you plan to burn.
  • If you intend to transport firewood more than a few miles, make sure it is completely dried and ready to burn. The bark should peel off easily and should be removed before transporting the wood.

For more information about insects and diseases that threaten Colorado trees, contact Sky Stephens at 970-491-6303 or contact a local CSFS district office.

Emergency Preparedness: The CSFS Engine Crews

In 2006, the General Assembly directed the creation of a Wildfire Preparedness Fund in the State Treasury to address the risk of wildfire in Colorado’s wildland-urban interface. Senate Bill 06-96 recognized the daunting challenge wildfire poses to public safety, fiscal management and natural resource integrity in the state.

The Fort Collins Engine Crew and interns hone their skills on the Slide Fire near Durango in August 2009.

The significance of SB-96 is the consistency it provides to acquire long-term aviation contracts, staff wildland fire engines, support National Guard resources, and train and use Colorado Department of Corrections State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams. In wildland fire management, consistency in the availability of resources leads to increased efficiencies and effectiveness in response to wildland fires.

Prior to SB-96, funding for the availability of state preparedness resources was not specifically dedicated and therefore not consistently available for long-term contracting or staffing of wildland response resources.

As part of this effort, an annual Wildfire Preparedness Plan is developed by a collaborative group consisting of the state forester, a representative of the County Sheriffs Association of Colorado, a representative of the Colorado State Fire Chiefs’ Association, director of the Division of Emergency Management, and the Adjutant General or his or her designee. The CSFS implements the plan, drawing on the Wildfire Preparedness Fund.

One of the many successful efforts following the passage of SB-96 was the formation of the CSFS engine crews in 2007. Located at the CSFS Cañon City, Boulder, Golden and Fort Collins districts, these crews staff Type 6 and Type 4 wildland fire engines.

Education and outreach are an important part of the Fort Collins Engine Crew's innovative approach. The crew poses with Colorado State University's mascot, Cam the Ram, at the Larimer County Fair.

“We have come a long way in developing the program so that it is far beyond what we ever expected,” said Matt Branch, engine boss located with the crew at the Fort Collins District. Although the Fort Collins crew performs preparedness and response activities, they are very interested in wildland fire education and training. “We don’t have enough qualified personnel, even nationally,” said Branch. “Developing the next generation of wildland firefighters is critical because more of the professionals are retiring and fewer people are becoming trained according to National Wildfire Coordinating Group qualifications.”

One effort to address the lack of qualified personnel was an internship program that the Fort Collins district and engine crew added in 2009. The program is targeted at Front Range Community College and Colorado State University students to give them the opportunity to gain firefighting experience and other critical skills pertaining to wildland fire and forestry. Students take part in formal chainsaw, pumps, and map and compass training throughout the summer. Four paid internship positions were created, which begin in mid-May. Interns are on call and ready to spend extended periods of time fighting fires in Colorado and elsewhere.

CSU offers five credits for the completion of the internship program. In order to earn these credits, students must keep a written journal, write an agency background paper and develop a special project that will benefit the CSFS.

As Branch says, “Fire is an interrelated part of all natural resource disciplines. Students from many disciplines would benefit from learning about fire and developing critical thinking and leadership skills.”

The local district offices provide daily supervision and project work. When not fighting fires, crews participate in projects that pertain to the management of Colorado’s forests. Project work includes mountain pine beetle mitigation, wildland fire hazard reduction, timber stand improvement, preparedness and fire prevention education programs. The crews also are available for fire suppression assignments at the district, state, regional and national levels.

When the engine program began in 2007, the program was new and in uncharted waters. Since then, the responsibilities of the crews have evolved in several innovative directions. Depending on the needs of the local CSFS district and the strengths of individual crews, personnel concentrate on thinning forests on state lands adjacent to private property; using prescribed fire as a tool for fuels reduction and forest management; or providing training and education as a way to encourage the development of much-needed human resources to fight fires and to educate the public on wildland fire.

To learn more about wildfire and how to become a wildland firefighter, visit the wildfire section of our website.

Pagosa Springs Land Trust Receives Forest Stewardship Award

On July 29, 2010, the Colorado State Forest Service recognized a Pagosa Springs land trust as the 2009 Colorado Outstanding Forest Steward of the Year for exceptional multiple-resource management of its 550-acre ranch.

Ken Levine (with map) and Dan Wand (right) lead a tour to describe projects on the ranch.

The Fairway Land Trust received the award for demonstrating a commitment to active forest management and promotion of forest stewardship in the community. CSFS Director and State Forester Jeff Jahnke presented the award to Stanley Levine and his family, who share ownership of the trust. Pagosa Springs Mayor Ross Aragon and Archuleta County Commissioner John Ranson were two of the more than 50 attendees, many of whom toured the Levine’s Reservoir River Ranch following the ceremony.

“I’ve always considered our family to be stewards of this special land, and we have always focused on improving and maintaining the unique environment with which we have been blessed,” said Levine, who co-owns the ranch with wife Elaine, son and ranch manager Ken, and three of Ken’s siblings.

Only one Colorado Outstanding Forest Steward is selected annually by the Colorado Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee to recognize individuals or groups who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to a forest stewardship land ethic.

Assistant District Forester Dan Wand of the CSFS Durango District said the Levine family worked with the CSFS to develop a forest management plan for the ranch, which became a certified Tree Farm in 2009. The Natural Resources Conservation Service also works with the Levines, offering planning assistance, as well as financial support for projects.

Ponderosa pine forestland on the ranch was thinned to improve forest health.

A summary of ranch accomplishments includes forest thinning on 152 acres to improve forest health; a half-mile of stream restoration (primarily on Mill Creek); improved infrastructure for irrigation and access; and an active weed control program.

Located just south of Pagosa’s hot springs and adjacent to open space, the Reservoir River Ranch borders the San Juan River and boasts a balanced blend of actively managed forestland, rangeland and pastureland. The property also is managed for wildlife habitat, watershed protection and recreational values.

“The Levine family has done an exceptional job of managing multiple resources on their land in an environmentally sound way,” said Jahnke.

The ranch is closely involved with the community and various partners, as well as the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. The Levine family has allowed limited recreational access to area residents for cross-country running and skiing events; plans also are underway for a bike path that will tie into the existing path in town.

CSFS Accepting 2011 Wildland-Urban Interface Program Grant Applications

The Colorado State Forest Service is now accepting applications for 2011 Wildland-Urban Interface Program grants. This competitive grant program makes funds available to homeowners associations, subdivisions, fire departments, fire protection districts, counties and other groups to implement projects that mitigate wildfire hazards in the wildland-urban interface. Applications are due in early August; specific deadlines vary by CSFS district.

Hazardous fuels reduction near this home helps firefighters protect it from wildfire.

WUI grant funds can be used for hazardous fuels reduction, fire education and planning. Funds can be used to address either projects already underway or those that have not yet begun; projects affiliated with approved Community Wildfire Protection Plans will receive priority. All grants require a one-to-one match from recipients.

The State and Private Forestry Program of the U.S. Forest Service receives funding for the grants through federal appropriations. In Colorado, the CSFS, a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, administers the grants.

“Colorado competes with 17 other Western states and territories for limited funding, so it’s essential that applications are complete, concise and clearly convey what will be accomplished,” said Jane Lopez, fuels mitigation program manager for the CSFS.

Applications must be submitted directly to the appropriate CSFS district office; a map of the CSFS districts is available on our website. District staff will review, prioritize and forward applications to the CSFS State Office in mid-August.

The state office will consider several factors when reviewing applications, including the existence of an established Community Wildfire Protection Plan; whether a project addresses wildfire hazard mitigation across landscapes and watersheds; whether it complements projects on adjacent federal, state, tribal or private lands; the relative benefits of the project compared with cost; the probability of success based on clarity of project description and revenue/expenses; and local organization or local government sponsorship of the project.

“Applicants really need to plan ahead. Groups that successfully compete for the 2011 grants will receive funding to help pay for projects next summer,” Lopez said.

Lopez emphasized that projects impacting a landscape larger than the area being treated have a better chance of receiving funding. For example, projects that tie a proposed fuelbreak into an existing fuelbreak on adjacent land are more likely to receive funding because their benefits extend beyond the area being treated. For the first time, the application form includes a section that asks applicants to address the “landscape scale” impacts of their projects.

The CSFS recently distributed a total of $1.2 million to 14 projects throughout the state that successfully competed for 2010 WUI grants.

Additional information about the 2011 Wildland-Urban Interface Competitive Grant Program, including program criteria, instructions and an application form, is available online on our website under the Funding Opportunities link. Contact a local CSFS district office for specific deadlines and assistance with the grant application process.

Best Management Practices to Protect Water Quality in Colorado

The Colorado State Forest Service has released revisions to the water quality protection guidelines for individuals and organizations conducting forestry-related activities in Colorado. The previous guidelines were developed in 1998.

A mountain stream near Vail in Colorado. Photo by Ingrid Aguayo

Forestry Best Management Practices to Protect Water Quality in Colorado: 2010 is a publication designed to protect Colorado water supplies by providing best management practices (BMPs) for forestry-related activities. The CSFS and 10 other federal, state, county and private natural resources organizations participated in an audit of timber harvesting sites to evaluate the application and effectiveness of the previous guidelines. The audit team then provided input for and reviewed the guidelines described in the new publication.

Logging, road construction and other high-impact forestry activities can disturb vegetation and soil, which may cause erosion and pollute watersheds. The CSFS publication provides guidelines to protect water quality and minimize erosion by providing recommendations for implementing these forest activities.

The water quality BMPs apply to essentially all forest management activities, including logging operations, fuels mitigation projects, forest health treatments, invasive tree species removal and road construction. The guidelines apply to forestry professionals and private landowners harvesting timber or extending roads into forested watersheds.

“These guidelines are voluntary, and applying them often requires professional assistance along with personal judgment,” said Greg Sundstrom, assistant staff forester with the Forest Management Division of the CSFS. “But they also can be used to develop timber sale and forest treatment contracts, making the application of BMPs a requirement in those situations.”

The CSFS encourages those who work in or own forestland to use the water quality BMPs when constructing roads; establishing streamside management zones; conducting timber-harvesting operations; using pesticides or fertilizers; or designing stream crossings (e.g., bridges or culverts). It also is important to adhere to the BMPs when engaging in pollution-producing activities to reduce or eliminate water contamination.

“It’s vital that we safeguard the future of our water resources,” Sundstrom said. “If Colorado landowners and forestry professionals adhere to the guidelines in this publication, they can help protect the quality of water that flows from our forests to our faucets and fields.”

The summarized guidelines were condensed from a larger publication on watershed BMPs created by the CSFS, Colorado Timber Industry Association, Colorado Nonpoint Source Task Force and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The following organizations participated in the audit of the 2010 guidelines: Colorado Water Quality Control Division in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which also provided grant funding to print the publication; U.S. Forest Service; Watershed Science Department at Colorado State University; Colorado Division of Wildlife; Colorado Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Jefferson County Open Space; Colorado Tree Farmers; EPA; Intermountain Forest Association; and Colorado Timber Industry Association.

For more information about the Colorado water quality BMPs or to obtain copies of the publication, contact a local Colorado State Forest Service district office or visit our website library to download the publication.

Statewide Forest Resource Strategy

Colorado Statewide Forest Resource Strategy.

The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and citizens of Colorado are concerned with the condition of our state’s forests. A comprehensive approach to forest management is imperative to ensure that Colorado’s forests remain productive and resilient for present and future generations.

The Colorado Statewide Forest Resource Strategy (strategy) is the plan that builds on and accompanies the Colorado Statewide Forest Resource Assessment (assessment). The assessment and strategy identify important forest lands and provide strategic direction for the distribution of limited resources.

Focusing and leveraging additional resources on important landscapes identified in the assessment will help reduce the threats to Colorado’s forest lands and increase the benefits these landscapes provide. Read more

Responsible Recreation Key to Preventing Wildfires

Thousands of Colorado families are headed up to the mountains or out onto the plains during the summer. The Colorado State Forest Service and other land-management agencies concerned with fire prevention want to be sure that campers and other outdoor recreationists follow a few simple tips to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.

An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Round Mountain Fire.

“Just last weekend, as several large fires were burning around the state, I saw more than one group leave a campfire unattended,” said Steve Ellis, a fire management officer for the CSFS. The now-controlled Round Mountain Fire that occurred west of Loveland last weekend was human-caused and is under investigation.

“The July Fourth weekend means an increase in outdoor recreation, so it’s important that virtually everyone who is planning to have a campfire, use fireworks or even drive off-road knows how to avoid accidentally starting a wildfire,” Ellis said.

Ellis emphasizes that 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.

“Green areas can dry out from just a few days of hot, sunny weather, so people need to be extra careful,” he said.

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

  • If smoking outdoors, ensure that the smoker is 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

For more fire prevention information, visit www.rockymountainwildlandfire.info.

Beetle-Kill Trees Falling Faster Each Day

GRANBY, Colo. – Lodgepole pines in beetle-kill areas are falling at an increasing rate, based on observations from foresters in Grand County. The falling trees pose an imminent threat to outdoor enthusiasts, mountain homeowners and those working outside this summer.

Falling trees pose threats to outdoor enthusiasts, mountain homeowners and those working outside this summer.

“Beetle-killed trees are really starting to fall,” said Ron Cousineau, Colorado State Forest Service district forester for the Granby District. He says thousands of dead lodgepole pines have already fallen this year as their shallow root systems rot away. “It’s happening every day,” he said.

About 80 percent of lodgepole pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic in Colorado likely will fall within a decade. Cousineau warns that many live trees also are blowing down in beetle-kill areas because of increased exposure to wind after dead needles fall off surrounding trees. These live trees may suddenly snap along the trunk, which presents a risk to anyone in their vicinity.

“In some beetle-kill areas, we’re seeing almost as many green trees falling as dead trees,” Cousineau said. To adequately address the danger of falling trees in populated areas impacted by pine beetles, he recommends removing green lodgepole pines as well as dead trees.

The CSFS offers the following tips to avoid harm from falling trees:

  • Refrain from visiting forested areas in high-wind conditions or when strong winds are forecast.
  • Remove standing dead trees in the vicinity of houses and other structures. If cutting operations will expose live trees to the wind, these may also need to be removed.
  • If the wind picks up when you are outside, move to a clearing away from dead or exposed trees.
  • Locate campsites, parked vehicles and tents well away from dead or exposed trees.
  • Steer clear of smaller roads that pass through beetle-kill forests, as trees falling across the road after your passage could block your exit.
  • Pack an axe, saw or chainsaw when headed into the backcountry to clear fallen trees from roadways.

The CSFS provides a link on our webpage to donate to the Colorado Bark Beetle Mitigation Fund; donations are used to remove beetle-infested trees on lands owned and managed by the state.

Landowners Should Protect Against Pine Beetles by Early Summer

Millions of adult bark beetles will set off in search of new hosts this summer in Colorado. Landowners attempting to prevent the spread of the beetles must act soon to effectively protect their trees, according to Sky Stephens, forest entomologist for the Colorado State Forest Service.

An adult mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) is 1/8- to 1/4-inch long. Photo by Bill Ciesla

“Colorado landowners at risk for mountain pine beetle infestation need to take steps to protect their trees before the beetles fly and infest new trees,” said Stephens. Mountain pine beetles generally depart dying trees to seek new hosts starting in early July.

According to aerial detection surveys, the mountain pine beetle epidemic moved closer to population centers along the Front Range in 2009. Five area counties (Larimer, Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin and Park) suffered 80 percent of all new mountain pine beetle activity, representing more than 300,000 acres.

While there is no effective treatment available to save trees already infested by mountain pine beetles, Stephens said landowners can effectively fight the insects on two fronts. Preventive treatments can be applied to non-infested trees; trees that are dead or dying from beetle infestation should be “sanitized,” or treated to kill late-stage larvae and pre-emergent adults. Sanitation involves cutting the trees down and then employing a proven method to kill beetles living under the bark, such as removing the bark itself, or chipping or burning the wood.

Chemical sprays are generally recommended to prevent infestation in a small number of high-value trees, while pheromones may deter the beetles from infesting larger stands. Stephens said that several new pine beetle-prevention products have also hit the market more recently, but haven’t yet been extensively tested for safety and effectiveness.

“When considering preventive treatments, landowners should contact the nearest Colorado State Forest Service district office to discuss the best options to meet their specific forest management objectives and address local conditions,” Stephens said. She also suggested that landowners follow all product label instructions and warnings, and recommends using licensed pesticide applicators to apply chemical products.

The Colorado State Forest Service provides more information about mountain pine beetle treatments on our mountain pine beetle web page.

Colorado Wildfire Season Underway Despite Spring Moisture

At the annual wildfire briefing held in Denver on May 20, Gov. Bill Ritter, Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, and other officials said that due to a wetter-than-usual spring, Colorado faces an average fire season in most regions.

Gov. Ritter speaks with Colorado State Forest Service firefighters during the pre-season wildfire briefing.

However, a predicted dry summer in northwest Colorado may present the necessary conditions for large fires, according to the Colorado State Forest Service.

Jahnke reminded Coloradans living in fire-prone areas that they are responsible for managing vegetation and accumulations of fire-prone materials like brush and wood piles to help protect their property and the safety of firefighters from wildfire.

“A home and associated property often represent the single biggest investment a person has,” Jahnke said. “Our foresters can provide expert advice on how to protect a home from wildfire while improving the health of the surrounding forest.”

Another fire risk is the pine beetle infestation, which is leaving large stands of trees with dead red needles that with summer hot spells could quickly ratchet up fire potential.

The pine beetle infestation also is creating a new kind of threat to public safety. As the roots of beetle-killed trees decay in the coming years, falling trees will pose an increasing and potentially serious risk to those who recreate in these areas.

The governor and state forester urged all Coloradans and visitors to take sensible precautions to avoid injury, obey camp and trail closure notices while hazard tree removal proceeds and remain vigilant about reducing the potential for human-caused fires.

“The 2010 fire season outlook is better than we’ve seen in recent years,” Gov. Ritter said. “Overall, we’re looking at average fire potential for the entire Rocky Mountain area. But we cannot let our guard down. We need to continue working across all levels of government with local homeowners, businesses and communities to prevent a catastrophic wildfire — and be fully prepared in case there is one.”

Agreement Allows Federal, State Foresters to Battle Beetles Across Boundaries

A soon-to-be-completed wildfire mitigation project in central Colorado’s Sawatch Range highlights a program that lets foresters work across ownership boundaries to more effectively deal with mountain pine beetles, fuels mitigation and other forest health issues.

Salida District Forester Damon Lange points out a snag left standing for wildife and archaeological significance.

The Husko-Cree Creek Timber Sale was established to improve forest health and create a fuelbreak to prevent the spread of wildfire between private and public land. Located on the San Isabel National Forest and an adjacent tract of private property impacted by mountain pine beetles, it is considered a sale because a logging contractor is paying to remove the valuable wood. This cross-boundary timber project is possible because of the Good Neighbor Authority – a little-known agreement between the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and federal land management agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

CSFS Salida District Forester Damon Lange, who acted as timber sale administrator for the Husko-Cree Creek project, says that the Good Neighbor Authority allows foresters to expand and more strategically locate fuelbreaks than those created on private land alone.

“In essence, we have doubled the effectiveness of this fuelbreak by using the Good Neighbor Authority,” Lange said.

“Boundaryless Management”

The Good Neighbor Authority was established by the 2000 Interior Appropriations Act, intended to provide “boundaryless management” when implementing forest management projects in the West. The authority was later revised by the National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act of 2009, which made the authority permanent. This authority allows the CSFS to extend forest treatments from state or private lands onto USFS or BLM lands, under agreement with those agencies.

“Good Neighbor allows us to work across boundaries,” said Lange, a 15-year veteran of the CSFS. “It lets us focus on utilizing environmental features like openings in the forest that serve as natural fuelbreaks, regardless of ownership.”

Lange says another benefit of the authority is that it results in more natural looking fuelbreaks than boundary-line projects that result in a “checkerboard” of straight-edged patches where trees have been removed.

Any project executed under the umbrella of the Good Neighbor Authority must demonstrate similar management objectives on both sides of a property line, such as the removal of insect-infested trees, hazardous fuels reduction or wildlife habitat improvement. CSFS Forest Management Division Supervisor Joe Duda says the authority was initially established to deal with fire mitigation along property boundaries in the wildland-urban interface (WUI).

“The benefits of the Good Neighbor Authority are apparent in the wildland-urban interface, where access may be difficult or costs for small projects are high,” Duda said. “The authority allows us to combine smaller individual projects for a greater landscape-scale impact.”

The Good Neighbor Authority also provides the means to create fewer miles of new roads in order to meet forest management objectives, as existing roads on private land often can be utilized when extending projects onto federal lands.

“We have a lot of national forest lands that border private property, but it’s hard for the U.S. Forest Service to access some of these properties through private land,” said USFS Forester Sam Schroeder, who was involved in some of the first Good Neighbor projects in the Salida Ranger District. He says that by utilizing the authority, the USFS can meet management objectives on national forest land that may have otherwise been inaccessible.

Logging operations were conducted primarily in the winter to minimize soil disturbance. Photo by Damon Lange

Filling Gaps in a Fuelbreak

In high-elevation lodgepole and ponderosa pine forests west of Salida, Colo., the CSFS and USFS are working together on the Husko-Cree Creek Timber Sale to prevent a catastrophic wildfire. A Chaffee County logging contractor is removing the trees – about half of which were killed by mountain pine beetles in 2000-2001 – as part of a massive fuelbreak.

“A lot of beetle-killed pine would have ended up dead and downed, and may have ultimately caused a very intense, unstoppable wildfire,” said Lange.

The sale has become part of a larger project designed to improve forest health in the area through thinning and prescribed fire. Ultimately, the Cree Creek Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project will yield a 1,500-acre fuelbreak in Chaffee County.

“Good Neighbor made it possible for us to manage the forest in a healthy manner on both the private and federal sides of the fence,” said Justin Anderson, referring to his role as the USFS timber sale contractor for the Husko-Cree Creek project. He says that without the program, the USFS would not have been able to create contiguous fuelbreaks surrounding nearby private land.

“It allowed us to connect the dots between fuelbreaks,” said Anderson.

By utilizing the Good Neighbor Authority, Lange and the CSFS were able to facilitate a cross-boundary agreement with the USFS and the private landowner, Bill Husko. Husko allowed a logger access through his property to the national forest, while the USFS permitted Husko’s 144-acre fuelbreak to extend onto the national forest to enhance its own project. The logger was willing to pay to remove the timber because it was valuable enough to sell for a profit, so he absorbed the majority of the project costs.

Husko said that although landowners may be leery that the Good Neighbor Authority would allow a contractor to spend several years crossing through their private property to harvest timber on the other side, the parties involved in this sale made sure they had the right planning and equipment to complete the project in a reasonable amount of time.

“They really knocked it out,” he said.

Colorado lumber mills have purchased the green wood from the Husko-Cree Creek project for use as pallets, while the beetle-killed blue-stain wood is being used for heating pellets for stoves or as ornamental construction logs. In addition, a wholesaler has bought some of the dead wood that has been converted to firewood.

Colorado the Good Neighbor Pilot State

Although the Good Neighbor Authority applies to 12 Western states, Colorado test-piloted the policy over the past decade. USFS and CSFS personnel in the Salida and Leadville ranger districts, who served as some of the state’s figurative guinea pigs, had no definitive procedures to direct their combined efforts.

“There was no manual. There were only basic guidelines, but we learned how to make it happen,” said Lange.

Anderson and Lange suggest that private landowners should consider utilizing the Good Neighbor Authority when it makes sense to extend their private land forest treatments onto adjacent public lands. They also encourage foresters throughout Colorado and other Western states to use the Good Neighbor Authority to strengthen their local inter-agency relationships and capitalize on the program’s benefits.

“I’m hoping that we become the example… that people see our success and get on board,” said Anderson.

To learn more about the Good Neighbor Authority, contact the nearest CSFS district office.

Jefferson County Evacuations Highlight Need to Protect Homes from Wildfire

Any doubt about whether Colorado’s fire season is underway was dispelled on May 4 by the wind-driven Blackhawk Fire in Jefferson County that led to the evacuation of 340 homes and burned more than 10 acres.

To protect from wildfire, this home needs defensible space created around it.

Luckily, the fire did not burn any structures, but it highlighted the need for landowners to address fire protection before flames race toward their doorstep.

“The ability of your home to survive a wildfire largely depends on defensible space – the area around a structure where trees and other vegetation are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire,” said Lisa Mason, outreach forester for the Colorado State Forest Service and Colorado’s “Are You FireWise?” program lead.

Mason suggests that landowners take the following actions to create defensible space around their homes in preparation for wildfire:

A home before defensible space.
  • Remove all flammable vegetation within 15 feet of any part of a home, including decks.
  • Thin standing trees within 75-125 feet of all structures, and locate the wider buffer below homes on steep terrain.
  • Allow at least 10 feet between the branches of standing trees.
  • Prune up tree branches to a height of at least 10 feet.
  • Dispose of slash (limbs and other woody debris) by chipping, or by piling and burning in winter. Contact a CSFS district office about how to safely and legally burn slash.
  • 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 all vegetation within 10 feet of woodpiles, propane tanks, sheds and other structures.
  • Remove pine needles from gutters and trim overhanging branches.
The home after defensible space.

In addition to creating defensible space, the CSFS emphasizes the importance of having fire-resistant roofing materials, because wood or shake shingles ignite easily. The CSFS also encourages subdivisions to establish Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) to effectively mitigate the risk of wildfire throughout entire neighborhoods.

A more comprehensive list of tips for creating defensible space to protect your home from wildfire and information on developing a CWPP is available on our website under resources for Homeowners & Landowners.

Forestry Leader Honored at Memorial Tree Planting

Several of northern Colorado’s most recognized forestry-related organizations hosted a memorial tree planting April 22 in honor of American forestry leader Tom Borden.

Tom Borden's memorial plaque located near the newly planted Douglas-fir tree.

“Tom practiced good forest management and planted trees wherever we lived,” said Rogene Borden, Borden’s wife of 58 years. “His whole life was dedicated to forest management education.”

The Colorado Forestry Association (CFA), Society of American Foresters (SAF), Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources (WCNR) organized the Tom Borden Memorial Tree Planting for the forester, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 82. As state forester for 25 years, Borden was the longest-running director of the CSFS, and was past president of the SAF and National Association of State Foresters. He also was responsible for renewing interest in the CFA in the early 1980s.

“Tom Borden was instrumental in reviving the Colorado Forestry Association, a citizens group concerned with sound forest management,” said CFA President Bill Gherardi.

CSFS Director and State Forester Jeff Jahnke, WCNR Dean Joyce Berry and SAF Colorado-Wyoming Chair Ron Cousineau joined SAF members at the memorial planting as part of the 2010 SAF Colorado-Wyoming Annual Meeting.

Unlike many Earth Day events on the CSU campus, the memorial planting was not cancelled or rescheduled despite stormy weather; however, much of the ceremony occurred out of the rain near the entrance to the adjacent Natural Resources Building.

Assistant State Forester Tom Wardle adds a ceremonial shovelful of earth to the Douglas-fir.

CSFS foresters and CSU forestry students obtained the young Douglas-fir tree planted from the Borden Memorial Forest, a 70-acre private forest and certified Tree Farm west of Fort Collins that Borden owned and managed; he later donated the land to CSU to be used as a living classroom. The tree’s new home is in an area known affectionately to students and faculty as “Sherwood Forest.”

“This tree was chosen because there are so few Douglas-firs on campus,” said Lisa Mason, chair of the Long’s Peak Chapter of the SAF and outreach forester for the CSFS. “The tree we’ve planted will become a respected teaching tool for future forestry students who are learning about tree identification.”

Douglas-fir is a coniferous species native to Colorado, generally found on north-facing slopes between 6,000-8,000 feet in elevation.

CSU already has established the Tom Borden Tree Fund in honor of the well-known forester; the fund is used to replace or add trees to the university’s campuses.

Granddaughter of One of Colorado’s First District Foresters Wins Arbor Day Contest

The Colorado winner of the 2010 National Arbor Day Foundation Poster Contest, a fifth-grade student at Denver’s Dora Moore K-8 School, is the granddaughter of one of the first three district foresters for the Colorado State Forest Service.

Colorado Arbor Day poster contest winner Gina Young and Sen. Pat Steadman hold Young's poster at the Capitol.

Kimberly Gina Young, whose poster depicting the energy-saving benefits of trees was on display at the State Capitol from April 12-22, may have taken the first step to following in the footsteps of her grandfather, the late Don Young. He was a CSFS district forester in Cañon City half a century ago. At that time, his district included the entire southern Front Range.

His granddaughter’s poster was selected from more than 1,900 posters submitted for this year’s NADF Poster Contest by fifth-graders at 45 schools throughout Colorado. A panel of judges from the Colorado Tree Coalition (CTC) and the Front Range Urban Forestry Council chose Gina’s poster as the winner over the other state finalists.

Young's visual arts teacher Julie Weir (left) and school Principal Joan Wamsley (right) with Gina Young and Sen. Steadman at the State Capitol.

“This poster contest is intended to engage students to learn about trees and their energy-saving benefits to rural and urban communities,” said contest coordinator Donna Davis, CSFS La Junta District forester. Davis co-chairs the poster contest committee of the CTC along with Doug Schoch, an inspector with the City of Denver Forestry Division. The significance of this year’s contest theme, Trees are Terrific… and Energy Wise!, was not lost on Gina, who drew a girl smiling in the shade of a large urban tree.

“The whole concept was about saving energy… I thought it would be hard to show a tree saving energy inside of a house, so I drew someone outside of the house,” she said.

When asked what she likes about trees, Gina said, “I think they’re good for decoration. They’re good to look at.” She said she learned in her science class that trees provide good hiding places and food for animals, which is important to her because she loves animals.

“And it’s really fun to read in the shade under a tree,” she added.

Pictured with Sen. Steadman and Gina are her aunts Donna Young and JoVonne Fitzgerald and Jerry Fitzgerald, her uncle (left to right).

This is Gina’s first year attending English-speaking schools in the United States. She was raised and lived in Seoul, South Korea, until a year ago; her parents still teach English there. Gina's dad, Greg Young, is former District Forester Don Young’s son. Gina currently lives in Denver with her dad’s brother, Jerry Fitzgerald, and his wife, JoVonne.

Fitzgerald said his niece is catching on quickly in her studies. “She’s just a sponge, learning all about American culture. She’s continually drawing, and really has an interest in the arts.” He says that although Gina is mature for her age, she still got excited when she found out she won the contest. “It was really fun for her,” he said.

Gina’s Aunt JoVonne said she thinks the NADF Poster Contest her niece won serves an important purpose. “I think by doing a contest like this, the students will be more informed about conservation than we are now,” she said. “Our generation took trees for granted.”

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, recognized Gina on April 19 in a presentation near the display of the state finalists’ posters in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, then introduced Gina in front of the House Assembly. In addition to the individuals already mentioned, several others attended the events, including CSFS Assistant Staff Forester Keith Wood; CTC President Scott Grimes; Dora Moore School Principal Joan Wamsley and visual arts teacher Julie Weir; Gina’s aunt, Donna Young (Don Young’s namesake), and uncle, Roger Ratcliff; and Gina’s cousin, Brian Fitzgerald.

Weir’s art students have placed in the top three spots for Denver-area school entrants in the NADF Poster Contest for the past three consecutive years – a testament to her involvement and guidance with students like Gina.

“I think it’s an important contest because it makes students more aware of the environment,” said Weir. “We spend a lot of time on it.”

As Colorado’s contest winner, Gina’s poster advanced to the national competition. The national winner was chosen through open online voting from March 29-April 2; the winner will be announced on National Arbor Day on April 30.

To view Gina’s winning poster, click here (2 MB PDF).

CSFS Offers First Aid Tips for Snow-Damaged Trees

Many Front Range residents awoke on March 24 to find that their trees had been damaged by Colorado’s first major spring snowstorm of 2010.

Homeowners should assess the situation first to avoid hurting themselves or further damaging trees. Photo by Sky Stephens

North Area Community Forester Keith Wood of the Colorado State Forest Service said that although the first impulse may be to start sawing when a tree is damaged, homeowners should assess the situation first to avoid hurting themselves or further damaging the tree.

Wood and the CSFS offer the following tips for dealing with snow-damaged trees; the tips were adapted from International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) recommendations:

  • Check for hazards. Before approaching a tree, examine your surroundings to avoid making contact with downed utility lines or standing under hanging branches that are broken and ready to fall.
  • Contact city officials if necessary. Trees between the street and a city sidewalk may be the responsibility of city crews.
  • Assess the damage. If a tree is healthy overall and still possesses its leader (the main upward branch), most of its major limbs and 50 percent or more of its crown, the chance is good for a complete recovery.
  • Avoid knocking snow off branches. This may cause the branches to break. If you must remove snow, gently push up on branches from below to prevent adding additional stress.
  • Remove broken branches. This minimizes the risk of decay and insects or diseases entering the wound. Prune at the branch collar – the point where a branch joins a larger one – and be mindful of potential pent-up energy if the branch is twisted or bent.
  • Don’t over-prune. With the loss of some branches, a tree may look unbalanced, but most trees quickly grow new foliage that hides bare areas.
  • Don’t try to do it all yourself. If the job requires running a chainsaw overhead, sawing from a ladder or removing large branches or entire trees, contact an insured, certified arborist. Professionals often are listed in the phone book under “tree services.”

“Preventive maintenance and regularly scheduled pruning can help you avoid major damage when the next storm strikes,” said Wood. “Contact a local certified arborist for more tips on how to make your trees as storm-proof as possible.”

For more information about tree care and protection, visit About Trees on our website.

To find an ISA-certified arborist, visit www.isa-arbor.com.

2009 Forest Health Report: An Overview of Colorado's Forest Conditions and Resources

On March 3, the Colorado State Forest Service released the 2009 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests at the annual Joint Ag and Natural Resources Committee Hearing in Denver. The report provides an overview of insect and disease conditions affecting the state’s diverse forests.

Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus). Photo by Bill Ciesla

Interactions between forests, wildfire, insects, diseases and humans also are reviewed, as is the role forests play in protecting Colorado’s watersheds.

Mountain pine beetles have received widespread attention lately, but urban trees and nearly half a million acres of spruce and fir in Colorado also face significant insect and disease threats.

“Spruce beetles have killed nearly all of the large, mature spruce trees in the San Juan Mountains near the headwaters of the Rio Grande River,” said Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service. Jahnke said the state’s spruce beetle infestation nearly doubled in size last year; the beetles were active on approximately 114,000 acres of high-elevation Engelmann spruce in 2009, mostly in southern Colorado.

Western spruce budworm—a defoliating insect pest that has increased its footprint in Colorado—also is affecting Engelmann spruce, as well as Douglas-fir and white fir. The budworm affected 382,000 acres last year, or more than twice the area impacted in 2008.

The CSFS report also listed several urban pests of significant concern. Thousand cankers disease of black walnut trees already has killed many trees in Boulder and Colorado Springs. The disease continued to spread in urban areas last year, including Denver and its suburbs.

Mountain pine beetles have been detected in more municipal areas. “Mountain pine beetle continued to attack pines in urban areas along the Front Range,” said Bill Ciesla, aerial survey coordinator for the CSFS and lead author of the 2009 report.

The report indicated that the mountain pine beetle remains the dominant forest pest in the state, with active infestations on 1 million acres of lodgepole pine. Jahnke said the CSFS is increasing its monitoring and management activities on state and private lands to address forest health concerns.

The CSFS, in conjunction with cooperators and stakeholders, is working to minimize the ecological, social and economic impacts of these events, primarily through long-term forest management such as thinning, prescribed burning and timely harvesting of mature forests. These activities are designed to maintain the vigor and health of all of Colorado’s forests.

The 2009 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests (6 MB PDF) is available on our website in the Library - publications section.

CSFS Welcomes Collegiate Lumberjacks in Fort Collins for Regional Competition

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – On March 16, the Colorado State Forest Service provided tours of its facilities on the CSU Foothills Campus to collegiate lumberjacks (and jills) from 11 university logging sports teams. The lumberjacks, who represented colleges in Colorado and seven other western states, were in town to compete in the 71st Annual Association of Western Forestry Clubs Conclave.

Assistant State Forester Tom Wardle provides a tour of the CSFS Nursery to Conclave competitors.

Assistant State Forester Tom Wardle, Fire Equipment Manager Sergio Lopes and Outreach Forester Lisa Mason gave the competitors tours of the CSFS nursery and fire division, and provided an overview of the agency’s role in Colorado forestry issues, such as the current mountain pine beetle epidemic.

Forest Entomologist Sky Stephens and Fort Collins District Firefighter Dan Beveridge volunteered at the Conclave competition later in the week.

Dan Beveridge, CSFS Fort Collins District firefighter, times a lumberjack in the obstacle pole challenge.

The Colorado State University Logging Sports Team hosted the Conclave, a regional logging competition that took place this year at the CSU Logging Sports Field on the Foothills Campus from March 17-19. The AWFC Conclave competition included the STIHL Timbersports Western Collegiate Challenge, which college sports network ESPNU covered and will televise for a national audience later this year.

Conclave events included traditional chopping and sawing disciplines like the single buck, standing block chop, stock saw and underhand chop.

Participants also competed in events like burling (rolling your opponent off a floating log before you fall into the water), ax throwing, pole climbing and tree identification.

First Colorado Subdivision to Fully Implement a Community Wildfire Protection Plan

A mountain subdivision bordering the Pike National Forest west of Colorado Springs has become the first in the state to fully implement its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).

Fuelbreak located in Majestic Park (left) next to untreated forest (right).

Residents of Majestic Park, a rural neighborhood set apart by steep ridges of ponderosa pine and sweeping vistas of Pikes Peak, launched the plan to protect their community from wildfire 5 years ago. In late 2009, after a series of requests for grant funds, homeowners’ association (HOA) meetings and forest-thinning operations, the community successfully completed the goals described in its CWPP. To Majestic Park residents, this CWPP means a significantly reduced risk of catastrophic wildfire sweeping through the subdivision and into the neighboring city of Woodland Park.

Majestic Park is one of nearly 150 communities in Colorado with an approved CWPP, but is the first community to meet all the goals identified in its plan.

CWPPs were authorized and defined by the 2003 Healthy Forests Restoration Act, with the intention of bringing together local communities and government agencies to address wildfire preparedness and fuels reduction in the wildland-urban interface. Approved CWPPs are required to compete for many federal grants to implement forest treatments. In addition, communities with CWPPs receive significant assistance from professional foresters to help develop and implement their plans. Every plan is unique because, in addition to protecting lives and property from catastrophic wildfire, each community has its own unique set of priorities.

Dave Root, assistant district forester for the CSFS Woodland Park District, surveys a fuelbreak in the Majestic Park mountain subdivision.

“First of all, a CWPP has to take community values into account. You’ve got to know what the community wants,” said Dave Root, an assistant district forester for the Woodland Park District of the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and a project administrator on the Majestic Park CWPP. Root, who is involved with almost 20 other CWPPs in his district, ensures that each plan meets specified standards such as treating high-priority areas to reduce hazardous fuels and establishing a more resilient forest.

“The first objective of a CWPP is to create a healthy forest,” Root said. “If you do that, everything else comes out okay in the end.”

Community bands together following Hayman Fire

The Hayman Fire, which burned nearly 140,000 acres northwest of Woodland Park in 2002, provided the initial motivation for the Majestic Park CWPP.

“The Hayman Fire occurred when development was just beginning in Majestic Park. Most property owners weren’t aware of the wildfire risk when they bought their lots and built their homes, but the 2002 fire season dramatically changed their fire awareness,” said Curt Grina, Majestic Park resident and HOA president. Although the Hayman Fire never reached Majestic Park, it ended up being the largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history.

“Every region has some natural disaster threat. Ours is unique, though, because we can do a lot to mitigate wildfire hazard,” said Grina.

After the fire, Grina initially bought expensive equipment and personally began thinning the forest on his own lot. He then started a cooperative effort with the other residents of the Majestic Park subdivision, the CSFS and other agencies to understand the fire risk in the subdivision and devise a plan to deal with it. The community’s strong collective desire to protect their lives and properties is the reason Root says the Majestic Park CWPP was so efficiently implemented. “It was definitely the commitment of the community to get out and get the work done,” he said.

Majestic Park consists of 15 lots, each approximately 35 acres of primarily ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir on steep terrain. While that landscape is typical of the region, the subdivision is unique in that it is located upwind of many surrounding residential areas; a fire headed toward these areas most likely would pass first through Majestic Park.

“What made the subdivision unique is that it’s right next to the city of Woodland Park, with a lot of fuel between here and there,” said Grina.

Funding pivotal to CWPP implementation

Grina, who served as lead author of the Majestic Park plan, said he was able to persuade his neighbors to implement the CWPP in part by explaining the benefit of cost-sharing using government grants. He said that the Coalition for the Upper South Platte Watershed (CUSP) was pivotal in identifying grant funds to help implement the CWPP. CUSP staff worked with the CSFS to link landowners to the best available sources of funding to help facilitate the Majestic Park plan.

“Citizens seeking to prepare a CWPP or seeking funding for priority projects often don’t know what information they need or where to find it,” said Marti Campbell, then Special Projects Coordinator for CUSP. “That’s where we come in.”

Root and other foresters from the CSFS Woodland Park District made frequent trips to Majestic Park to guide the HOA through the steps needed to obtain grant money. They also explained CSFS fuelbreak guidelines and described possible methods to create effective fuelbreaks in the subdivision. Foresters then marked trees for removal based on CWPP standards and landowner requests.

Fuelbreaks built to prevent crown fire

The Majestic Park strategy required what foresters call “thinning from below”—selectively removing excessive understory vegetation and leaving larger, more fire-tolerant trees standing in broad fuelbreaks. Contractors using heavy machinery created most of the 300-foot-wide fuelbreaks, grinding most of the woody material into mulch. Approximately 150 acres were ultimately treated in Majestic Park, or more than 25 percent of the land area.

“Creating fuelbreaks is a science and an art,” said Root. “The science is knowing how far apart to space trees for proper growth and fire mitigation. The art is how to make it look good.”

Root says the emphasis of the Majestic Park plan was to encourage approaching wildfires to transition from catastrophic crown fires to less-intense ground fires, not to completely prevent wildfires. “Because fire is a natural part of the ponderosa pine ecosystem, we want an approaching wildfire to act like a pre-settlement ground fire that does minimal damage to the ecosystem,” he said.

Denny King, Majestic Park HOA secretary and treasurer, is confident that the subdivision is much better prepared now for an intense wildfire. “It’s defensible now. It was indefensible before,” said King.

Grina and King agree that virtually everyone in the neighborhood is satisfied with the results of the CWPP. Besides a shared confidence that the fuelbreaks will protect the community from catastrophic wildfire, they say residents appreciate the appearance of the treated forest and suggest that it even attracts more wildlife. “We’re very grateful to the Colorado State Forest Service for making this possible,” King said.

Root insists that all rural landowners in Colorado must be proactive in establishing CWPPs to protect their communities. “It’s too late to start worrying about it when smoke is in the air and the fire is headed your way. The time to act is now.”

To learn more about developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, call your local Colorado State Forest Service district office and ask to speak with a forester.

Seedling Trees Ideal for Reforestation After Pine Beetles, Fire

Landowners interested in reforesting mountain properties recently ravaged by insect infestation or wildfire may be eligible for low-cost seedling trees from the Colorado State Forest Service.

Children help plant native seedling trees during a restoration project.

The CSFS nursery offers a wide variety of native seedling trees ideal for restoration in areas impacted by the recent mountain pine beetle infestation, including lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine and aspen. “In addition to replanting the tree species that was attacked, you should plant a variety of native trees to minimize the impact of future pests to your forest,” said Nursery Manager Randy Moench.

The CSFS seedling tree program is designed to encourage Colorado farmers, ranchers and rural landowners to plant native seedling trees for conservation purposes, including reforestation to replace dead or dying trees.

Approximately 5,000 Coloradans currently plant seedling trees each year to create windbreaks, enhance wildlife habitat, protect livestock and meet other conservation goals.

The CSFS offers a wide variety of native seedling trees ideal for restoration in areas impacted by the recent mountain pine beetle infestation.

Moench says cost effectiveness is a major benefit of planting seedlings. “Planting 50 to 100 mature trees can get very expensive, but the same number of seedlings is quite affordable.” Other benefits of planting seedling trees include increased property values, energy conservation and reduced utility bills.

To purchase seedling trees from the CSFS, landowners must meet the following criteria:

  • Own two or more acres of land
  • Use the seedlings for conservation purposes only
  • Purchase seedlings in minimums of 30 to 50 (depending on species and size)
  • Agree not to use seedlings for landscaping or resale

Seedling orders are now being accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, but Moench said it’s a good idea to order as soon as possible. “Landowners who order before mid-March will have the best selection to choose from,” he said.

More information about the CSFS seedling tree program is available at local CSFS district offices and on the Seedling Tree Nursery web page.

US Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service Announce Forest Health Survey Results

On Jan. 22, 2010, the US Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service announced the results of the 2009 forest health annual aerial survey. The results reveal that the bark beetle infestation affected about 524,000 new acres in 2009, bringing the total number of acres impacted in Colorado and southern Wyoming to 3.6 million since the first signs of outbreak in 1996.

Beetle-killed trees present a public safety risk in recreation areas.

Research indicates that lodgepole pine trees infested by mountain pine beetle will begin to fall three to five years after they die. Large pockets of downed trees have been observed from the air and ground. The blow downs were likely caused by strong winds.

“The threat of falling dead trees has created an emergency situation for which we are responding at a national level,” said Rick Cables, Rocky Mountain Regional Forester for the US Forest Service. “For the next two years, we are working with a national incident management organization to approach our efforts across the entire landscape utilizing all of the tools available.”

In addition to legislation introduced and passed by Colorado’s state and federal legislators directing much-needed funding over the last few years, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an additional $40 million to bolster the Rocky Mountain Region’s efforts this year.

Forest management in areas impacted by the beetle epidemic helps mitigate hazards to communities, infrastructure and water supplies.

“Forest health has been a priority for my administration and we are extremely grateful for the $40 million that has been allocated to the Rocky Mountain Region for hazard tree removal,” Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. said. “It’s important to understand that addressing the public safety risks caused by the beetles will take a lot of resources and many years of hard work. But it’s something we simply have to do.”

“The magnitude of the impacts from the bark beetle epidemic is staggering, and the Colorado State Forest Service will continue to focus on management efforts that help mitigate the impacts to communities, infrastructure, water supplies and natural resources,” said Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service. “We are fortunate and thankful to have the support of the Colorado Congressional Delegation, Colorado General Assembly and Gov. Bill Ritter as we continue to address this critical forestry issue in our state.”

Other forest health concerns presented today include the spruce beetle infestation that has reached an epidemic level of about half a million acres, mostly in southern Colorado. The aspen decline situation has stabilized. All indications are that this condition peaked in 2008 and expanded very little over the past year.

For more information about the aerial survey results, visit the US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region website.

Windbreaks Keep Flying Snow from Creating Hazards

The snow that continues to blanket Colorado will provide much-needed moisture this spring. Although the moisture is welcome, blowing snow can block or create hazards on driveways, sidewalks, roadways and highways. However, the strategic selection and placement of trees and shrubs can control blowing snow by acting as windbreaks.

Millions of seedling trees and shrubs are grown each year at the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery for use in natural windbreaks, reforestation projects and other conservation plantings.

The density or porosity of trees and shrubs used in windbreaks has a beneficial impact on snow distribution. It can help keep snow near the windbreak and away from roads, or spread it evenly across fields to take advantage of moisture.

Less dense trees such as deciduous trees that lose their leaves in winter distribute snow across fields, which is useful for capturing moisture that is used to grow spring crops or winter wheat. Windbreaks can improve winter wheat yields by as much as 15 to 20 percent depending on tree selection.

A new row of seedling trees was planted in this windbreak on the La Junta District.

A dense multiple-row windbreak also can provide protection for spring calving and help reduce mortality rates of newborn livestock. By moderating wind velocity, a livestock shelterbelt reduces wind chill temperatures, which can severely impact wet newborn animals.

CSFS Nursery Provides Seedlings for Conservation Plantings

The Colorado State Forest Service Nursery staff grow more than 40 varieties of seedling trees and shrubs. In addition to outdoor production, the nursery occupies 18,000 square feet of greenhouse space. The program makes seedling plantings affordable to eligible rural landowners who own two or more acres of land.

The goal of the CSFS Nursery Seedling Tree Program is to encourage these Colorado landowners to establish effective windbreaks, plant new forests and enhance wildlife habitat. It’s important to order seedlings soon.

To learn more about our seedling program, visit the CSFS Seedling Tree Nursery web page.

Community-Based Forest Restoration

In 2007, forest restoration projects funded by state legislation authorities received a jump start. HB07-1130, also known as The Pilot Forest Restoration Program to Demonstrate Community-Based Approaches to Forest Restoration, required at least a 40-percent contribution in matching funds. Funds provided by HB 1130 leveraged another $2.8 million in matching funds, significantly more than was initially required.

Heil Valley Ranch Fuels Reduction Project (before fuels treatment).

Twelve projects were funded and used a total of $876,450 provided by this grant to treat 3,115 acres. The 12 communities contributed a total of $1,355,004 as matching funds to accomplish their respective management objectives.

Among the 12 HB 1130 projects, the Heil Valley Ranch 2008 Fuels Reduction Project exemplifies the excellent use of funds to treat significant acres that ultimately accomplish more to protect the community, its critical watershed and associated natural resources from continued pressure from mountain pine beetle, other forest pests and diseases, as well as the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Heil Valley Ranch Fuels Reduction Project (after fuels treatment).

The Heil Valley Ranch 2008 Fuels Reduction Project, managed by Boulder County Parks and Open Space, matched more than 60 percent of the project’s total costs.

The thinning accomplished a three-fold objective of forest health concerns, fire risk, and wildlife habitat needs for the fringed myotis bat.

The 72 acres treated is part of a larger forest restoration effort in the southern portion of Heil Valley Ranch. Boulder County Youth Corps contributed more than 3,000 hours of labor toward the project. Management activities occurred while the fringed myotis bat was over-wintering at another location therefore, habitat was undisturbed during the maternity cycle.

Senate Bill 71 Extends Forest Restoration Pilot Program

Since the initiation of the HB 1130 Pilot Forest Restoration Program, SB08-071 (SB 71) was authorized to extend forest management efforts and to continue demonstrating community-based approaches to forest restoration across Colorado’s watersheds. Three increments of a severance tax will provide an estimated $1 million annually through 2012 to fund forest restoration projects. SB 71 currently is funding $1.97 million for 29 projects that will be completed by September 30, 2010.

House Bill 1199 Augments Restoration Efforts

More recently, HB09-1199, Colorado Healthy Forests and Vibrant Communities Act of 2009, continues to extend the intent and authority of this Pilot Forest Restoration Program. The lessons learned by Colorado’s General Assembly and the many communities who participate in programs such as this teach us that forest and watershed protection needs full community support. It is community efforts that will help us live safer and healthier among our beautiful dynamic Colorado landscape.

For more information, visit our Forestry Legislation in Colorado web page.

A Living Tree Lasts for Many Seasons

Bristlecone pine

Many Coloradans choose live potted trees to enjoy indoors during the holidays and plant later outdoors. After the holidays, the tree may be placed in a garage for a few days before planting.

Learn more about planting and caring for live potted evergreen trees at Planttalk Colorado.

Additional information is available on our About Trees web page.

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